The noose is tightening for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as opposition parties yesterday met in Blantyre to find a common ground on the position that they will take following the response from the electoral body on the stolen Biometric Voter Registration Kit (BVRK).
Representatives of nine opposition parties yesterday met in camera to discuss a common stand on the matter prior to a press conference set for Blantyre today to announce their consensus.
The meeting drew People’s Party (PP) secretary general Ibrahim Matola, Assembly for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Cassim Chilumpha, People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) leader Mark Katsonga Phiri, as well as delegates from the United Transformation Movement (UTM), Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), People’s Transformation Party (Petra), Alliance for Democracy (Aford), the Republican Party (RP) and the New Labour Party (NLP).
Main opposition Malawi Congress (MCP) did not attend.
In an interview, MCP spokesperson Maurice Munthali said the party was not undermining the importance of the meeting, saying its delegate was committed and would get in touch with the other parties to find common ground.
In an interview after the meeting, spokesperson for the grouping, Mafunde president George Nnensa, said the parties discussed steps to take following a National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting last week in Lilongwe.
He said: “This meeting was strategic in the sense that it gave us an opportunity to liaise among ourselves on how best to deal with the problems at hand. In essence, we are not satisfied with the explanation that MEC made at the Necof meeting last week. As such, we wanted to bang heads and tomorrow [Tuesday] we will make public of what we have resolved.”
In a separate interview, Katsonga corroborated Nnensa, saying the meeting was crucial and would display unity in the opposition bloc as the country gears towards the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
“We have discussed and now we have a common approach on this matter. What is important is that we speak with one voice in crucial matters like these,” he said.
MEC has been under fire from various electoral stakeholders, some of whom have called for the resignation of MEC chairperson while others have recommended an independent forensic audit of data captured by MEC.
Two days ago, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) said MEC should institute an independent investigation to salvage people’s trust in the electoral body.
During the Necof meeting parties refused to buy the explanation of MEC chairperson Jane Ansah who claimed that data, which the commission captured, was not compromised and that the situation was under control after revelations that the BVRK number 1962, which was stolen in September, was later found on a coal train in Mozambique.
MEC in an earlier statement said the equipment was lost in transit from Mzuzu to Mwanza but was found on the train belonging to Vale Logistics.
At the Necof meeting, electoral stakeholders rejected MEC’s attempts to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts from the National Registration Bureau (NRB) and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) in investigating the matter.
Ansah said the equipment that was found in Mozambique was National Registration Bureau property, contradicting an earlier statement signed by MEC chairperson for electoral services committee Jean Mathanga which confirmed MEC’s ownership of the equipment.