Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) executive director Steve Duwa has said he wants allegations of rigging during elections to be thoroughly investigated and concluded to avoid the tension that mostly characterise the campaign period.
Duwa’s sentiments come at a time tension is slowly building up in Lilongwe City South East Constituency where agents of some candidates in the October 17 by-elections are allegedly recording voter certificate numbers of eligible voters.
The purpose for recording the details remains a mystery, but Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Ulemu Msungama has raised concerns of possible rigging by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentary hopeful Reuben Ngwenya in the race.
Ngwenya could not be reached on his mobile number, but the DPP has rubbished the assertions, saying they are unfounded, and challenged anyone with evidence to bring it before relevant authorities.
Msungama wrote the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) last Thursday, asking if collection of information form voter certificates is allowed.
The letter, which Nation Online has seen, reads in part: “I have been receiving calls since Saturday that the DPP team is giving out K1 000 notes in exchange of voter registration card numbers and promising the voters that after elections, they will be given more cash, fertiliser, loans etc.”
In an interview, the MCP candidate said he feared the activities amounted to rigging, which would rob him of victory as happened during the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
The Supreme Court of Appeal, last May ordered a re-run of the elections in the constituency where the DPP candidate Bentley Namasasu was declared winner in the 2014 elections.
MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said he received the complaints from Msungama, saying the commission already responded to the issues raised. He did not clarify.
But, according to the MCP candidate, the only feedback he got from MEC was a press release issued on Friday, September 8 2017, titled “Keeping the vote certificate safe”.
In the statement, signed by acting chief elections officer Harris Potani, MEC urged all eligible voters to keep their voter certificates safe in view of reports that some people were recording voter certificate numbers.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila laughed off Msungama’s concerns, saying they lack substance considering that voting is done manually.
He wondered how his party would know who voted for their candidate to shower them with gifts as alleged by Msungama.
Said Kasaila: “Someone in Nsanje-Lalanje [Constituency] was doing something similar to that [collecting serial numbers of voter certificates], and people were caught and charged, so don’t just bring out issues for the sake of seeking sympathy from people. We want pure evidence and not just politics.”
But the Mesn executive director has observed that such allegations compromise the electoral process and are an infringement of the right of participation for the voter.
Said Duwa: “By now, we would have had cases where such allegations were concluded, but we continue to hear of such issues every time we are holding elections. I don’t remember the police or MEC getting to the bottom of these issues. What is the motivation for someone to go and collect someone’s voter certificate number? Is it a criminal offence? These are some of the questions that people need answers to.”