Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah says she is confident the electoral body will clear all logistical hitches before polling day on May 21 because government and development partners have moved in.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, the MEC chairperson, who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said government and donors have filled the monetary and logistical gaps; hence, her confidence to hold elections without hitches.
Ansah said MEC needs 2 154 vehicles, three aircraft and six boats to effectively and efficiently distribute materials and deploy staff in all 5 002 polling stations as well as reverse logistics.
She said: “The government is mobilising all the station wagons. Of the 2154 vehicles required, 600 are trucks. Government has released K300 million for MEC to hire trucks which we could not get from government ministries, departments and agencies.
“We are currently analysing the bids received and we will be communicating within the next two days. The commission has also noted a directive from government for impounding vehicles. MEC also wishes to commend development partners who have come in to assist the commission with provision of 100 trucks.”
The news conference was organised amid electoral stakeholders’ concerns over inadequate transport for election materials, missing photographs on voter register in some centres and the state of arrival and dispatch of ballot papers.
Yesterday, The Nation quoted a MEC commissioner as having indicated that the electoral body faces multiple challenges of transportation of electoral materials and collection and transmission of results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The commissioner mentioned transport and transmission of results as areas requiring address.
The commissioner’s sentiments were echoed by European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission deputy chief observer Mark Stevens in an exclusive interview on Monday.
He said while the EU Observer Mission avoids issuing statements before election day, at the moment the sticky issues have been noted and that the mission was following closely on transportation of electoral materials and the results transmission system.
Ansah said MEC has already started distributing non-sensitive polling materials, including ballot boxes and ballot booths.
She said between May 17 and 18, the materials, together with ballot papers, will be distributed from district councils to the polling centres.
Ansah said on May 19 from 9am, presiding officers in all polling stations will open all polling materials, including the ballot papers, to ascertain if the right materials in right quantities have been delivered.
She has since advised political parties and all electoral stakeholders to send their monitors and observers for the exercise saying the exercise shall go on even in the absence of monitors and observers.
On the voters’ register, Ansah admitted “few cases” of voters with missing photographs in some centres at the time the commission finished printing the voters’ register.
She said: “Please note that, out of the 5 002 centres, there are a total of 398 centres containing voters with missing photographs. Most of these centres have one or two voters with missing photographs.
“The commission is assuring everyone who registered, if there are names appearing without a picture, they will still be allowed to vote. No one will be sent back.”
There are 193 constituency tally centres that will transmit results to the national tally centre at Chichiri International Conference Centre, also known as Comesa Hall, in Blantyre. In total, there are 197 tally centres, including four that will strictly process Local Government election results.