Opposition legislators yesterday demanded an explanation on why the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has put the national identification card as a prerequisite for one to be eligible to vote in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Lilongwe North East member of Parliament (MP) Maxwell Thyolera (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) asked the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security to outline laws that allow people to only vote if they have a national ID the media quoted MEC.
He said: “Where did MEC take the laws saying only those with a national ID should vote when we ably know there is a registration process during general elections?”
In her response, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia said the exercise national ID registration process was meant to identify bonafide Malawians and that only those with the ID would be eligible to vote.
Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya intervened, requesting the minister to deal with the question on the floor instead of skirting around the issue.
Said the Speaker: “Deal with the question, it is simple. The honourable member wants to know which law allows that a national ID is a prerequisite for one to vote?”
Government chief whip Henry Mussa rescued Chiumia by suggesting that she should consult MEC first before making any conclusion.
A heated debate on the national IDs arose after Kasungu South East MP Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda asked the Ministry of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development to give an account regarding the national registration exercise which was facing various challenges.
In her question, the legislator wanted the minister, Grace Chazama, to address concerns of poor public awareness, planning and faulty equipment.
Leader of People’s Party (PP) in Parliament Uladi Mussa, contributing to debate on the issue, said the ministry needed to hold a meeting with MEC to clarify on the issue of IDs versus electoral registration.
The project has been funded by the Malawi Government and development partners to the tune of $49 694 000 (about K36.5 billion). Currently, over 100 000 people have been recorded to have been registered with the registration process expected to end in December.