The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) yesterday launched the official campaign for the May 20 Tripartite Elections in Blantyre where it emphasised the need for peace.
MEC invited members of the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) to witness the launch whose theme was ‘Clean campaign, say no to violence’.
The electoral body says it has high expectations from political parties, the media, civil society organisations (CSOs) and traditional leaders.
The launch attracted several people, including secretaries general of political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and faith-based organisations. Commissioner of police Lexten Kachama, who is moving to the Southern Region Police Headquarters to replace Wilson Matinga, represented the Inspector General of Police.
However, the Thyolo fracas which resulted in the death of two people, allegations of extra police uniforms, the theft of MEC’s external hard disk, MBC’s bias towards the governing People’s Party (PP), the promotion of teachers this time who will be clerks during the election and the mid-night jet dominated the launch.
The Reverend Ellen Maulana from Christ Living Church asked MEC to explain reports that a plane arrived at night and left in the morning, arguing that such unexplained visits create suspicions of rigging.
In response, MEC commissioner Nancy Tembo said the commission got the report, but had no interest in it after government said it carried visitors for the President.
“However, [a] report that the plane carried ballot papers is not true because MEC has not printed them since one of the candidates [Professor John Chisi of Umodzi Party] is challenging his disqualification,” she said.
MEC chairperson Maxon Mbembera asked social service providers to stop using voter registration cards as identification documents in order to avoid cases of abuse.
Mbendera, who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, gave an example of the Malawi Rural Development Fund (Mardef) which asks applicants to leave behind their voter registration cards to process their loans. He said this has, in some cases, led to loss of the documents.
On the Thyolo fracas, Mbendera called on law-enforcers to act quickly so that those responsible are brought to book.
He also pledged to investigate a complaint from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) that the PP is making police officers’ uniforms which would be given to party officials who will disguise as police officers at polling centres.