Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale says the electoral body is set to hold the country’s first ever court-sanctioned fresh presidential election tomorrow despite facing a K10 billion funding deficit.
During a news conference at the National Tally Centre located at the College of Medicine Sports Complex in Blantyre last evening, the chairperson—appointed on June 7 alongside six other commissioners—said MEC is still awaiting disbursement of the K10 billion to ensure smooth operations and achieve a free, fair and credible election.
Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi, warned that failure to release the money to MEC would have legal consequences.
He said: “The K10 billion deficit needs to be cleared. The money was budgeted for. This is not a private affair. It is something to do with the public.
“We need the money urgently and we will be engaging the relevant authorities so that they should honour their commitment of releasing the money to us.”
Kachale’s sentiments come after Treasury on Friday released K10 billion more to bring total funding for the fresh presidential election at K19 billion. In February, Parliament allocated K29 billion for the poll in the Mid-Year Budget Review.
The allocation followed nullification of the May 21 2019 presidential election by a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court on February 3. The court ordered that a fresh election be held within 150 days and directed that the status in the presidency—President and Vice-President—revert to the May 2014 Tripartite Elections outcome.
During yesterday’s briefing, Kachale said the funds provided on Friday have been used to finance some of the ongoing operations.
Initially, MEC had pegged the fresh election budget at K38 billion.
Giving the status on vehicles to facilitate delivery of electoral materials, Kachale said the deficit had been and that the required 336 trucks are in place.
He said the hired trucks were inspected by the Plant and Vehicle Hire Organisation (PVHO) which certified them to be fit to be used.
Besides the trucks delivering materials such as ballot papers, Kachale said an additional 60 vehicles are being used on training polling staff and publicity of messages.
On ballot papers which arrived through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on Friday, he said that as of yesterday they had been dispatched to the country’s 193 parliamentary constituencies.
During the briefing, Kachale, who was accompanied by MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika, assured that those who will work on the polling day will receive their dues for services rendered.
He also MEC has hired 10 338 security personnel from both the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and the Malawi Police Service.
Kachale said the commission has recruited 27 873 polling clerks and 9 291 presiding officers who have since been trained.
But the MEC chairperson expressed concerns over the distortion of voter information by some quarters for campaign purposes.
He said: “As MEC, we remain nonpartisan and we are concerned with individuals who are manipulating our voter information for their own campaign purposes. Let me say that those who will be found will be dealt with according to law.”
Meanwhile, pre-inspection of voter materials is expected to take place today from 8am in all polling stations across all the polling centres where political party representatives are expected to be present.
Kachale said the exercise will proceed even if political party representatives will be late and emphasised that “presiding officers have other things to do”.
By Friday, MEC faced a shortfall of 65 trucks from the required 386 and a deficit of about 1 067 station wagon vehicles out of the required 2 446.