Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has reassured the nation that there was nothing sinister in relation to reports of missing biometric voter registration (BVR) kits and duplicates of voter registration certificates.
Addressing a National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) in Lilongwe on Friday, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah said much as the reports had the potential of painting a picture of ill-intention and mal-administration of the electoral process, the commission has explained and demonstrated that there was nothing sinister on its part.
Opposition political parties feared the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was devising a scheme to rig the elections when the kits were found on a train in Mozambique last October while duplicates of voter registration certificates from some centres in Lilongwe were found abandoned in Mangochi early last month.
A verification exercise, however, conducted by political parties represented in Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), found that there was nothing sinister in both cases.
In her speech at the Necof meeting attended by stakeholders that included United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres, heads of mission and representatives of development partners, political party representatives and chiefs, Ansah said the forensic IT team helped to clear out the fears.
On the abandoned duplicate voter registration certificates, she said it was sheer negligence of the kit operator, adding that the officer was subsequently fired.
“The commission would like to assure Necof that this incident has no effect on the bearers of the original certificates and, indeed, the electoral process,” added Ansah.
She further urged all candidates to refrain from fanning vote-rigging rumours and allegations “unless they are double sure, and that they can collaborate with the MEC to bust such claims”.
Following nominations that have been done, Ansah told the meeting that any candidate who decides to withdraw would not have their fees refunded.
“Even when a candidate resigns from a party, their affiliation on the ballot cannot change. Also, when a candidate is disqualified, the party will not have a chance to feature a replacement,” she warned.
Ansah also disclosed that MEC has resolved not to have any official broadcaster for 2019 Tripartite Elections.
“The commission has considered that the broadcast industry has undergone some transformation in the past years and the reasons that warranted the issue of official broadcaster no longer exist,” she said.
She added: “Stakeholders should note that during polling and results management, if they hear announcement of results on a radio station or television by a MEC commissioner or official, then they should take that as official communication from MEC.” n