An observation report by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) for the third phase of the voter registration exercise has faulted civil society organisations (CSOs) for failing to monitor the exercise.
According to the report, the third phase registered a 50 percent presence of local monitors from CSOs in centres observed by Mesn monitors.
It also notes that the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust and Mesn are the only CSOs on the ground doing the monitoring and observation of the voter registration exercise.
States the report: “The phase has registered a drop as compared to phase two which registered 77 percent while phase one was at 64 percent. Most civil society organisations are not observing the voter registration.”
Mesn has thus recommended that CSOs across the country should mobilise local observers to participate in monitoring the registration as the process is key to ensuring credible elections.
In an interview yesterday, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) acting national coordinator Boniface Chibwana bemoaned the lack of funding for CSOs to implement election-related activities.
He said CCJP has monitors in Chikwawa District working on voluntary basis.
Said Chibwana: “It is a true observation. There is a drought on the part of the CSOs because most do not have resources. Most are doing pro-bono work.”
But in a separate interview, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the absence of monitors by some CSOs will not have a negative effect on the registration process.
He said: “Absence of monitoring or observation cannot affect the turnout of registrants. Monitors are placed at the centres to monitor or observe how the process is going. They do not go out and mobilise people to register. The essence of having monitors and observers is to vouch for the credibility of the process.”
According to statistics presented by MEC last week, it has registered 2 686 903 eligible voters from the three phases, representing 81 percent of the 3 304 492 projection.
Phase four of the exercise, covering Mwanza, Chikwawa Blantyre and Ntcheu districts, is currently underway.