The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has given back to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) gas lamps and tents it borrowed for use during the country’s May 20 Tripartite Elections.
An official hand-back ceremony took place on Wednesday in Harare, Zimbabwe and MEC was represented at the event by its chairperson Maxon Mbendera who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, according to a statement issued by MEC.
Previously, MEC was using generators, torches and paraffin lamps, but stakeholders complained that the lighting system was poor and a recipe to manipulate votes during counting and demanded an improvement.
However, as per agreement between the two electoral bodies, MEC is expected to pay for the damaged equipment, part of which was burnt when its warehouse caught fire in Lilongwe.
A verification and quantification exercise conducted in Harare after the arrival of the equipment established that MEC had a deficit of 933 lamps, 257 gas cylinders, 13 tent-roofs and 55 tent sides.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mbendera said MEC was aware of the terms of agreement which state that the body must replace any broken or missing equipment.
Said Mbendera: “In this case, the commission will have to pay for the damage. We will wait for your guidance on this issue. We accept full liability of the damage.”
In her remarks, ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Laetitia Kazembe said her commission was shocked to learn of the fire that destroyed part of the election materials and the equipment.
According to The Nation calculations, MEC spent about K9 million by borrowing the equipment from Zimbabwe.