The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) yesterday met a high-powered delegation of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in Blantyre led by its chairperson Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Maxon Mbendera and asked the electoral body to clear perceptions of rigging in the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
PAC, which was led by its chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota, told the MEC delegation that the religious body had information that money was being offered to effect rigging initiatives.
Said Chingota: “There are strong rumours that MEC is infiltrated. While PAC has not been able to go to the root of this issue, it is important that you are formally informed so that the perception is cleared.”
PAC said it also received an observation from stakeholders that MEC may not have the capacity to handle the electoral process due to financial constraints and in this regard, voter registration would be affected due to lack of capacity.
Chingota said PAC was also informed that some parties had presented complaints to MEC, but some stakeholders believed that there had been inadequate redress on this particular issue.
The religious body told MEC that there were also concerns over the figures of registered voters, adding this was compounded by the way the voter verification was suspended and shifted to the Southern Region.
In a statement made during the closed-door meeting and made available to the media, Chingota said: “Some stakeholders, especially presidential candidates, seem not to be convinced by various explanations given by you. You may need to do more on the matter.”
PAC said there are different scenarios to the elections and they include a scenario where elections may not be entirely free and fair to the extent that the result could be rejected and where the public in general may reject the outcome depending on who triumphs.
Chingota said these scenarios would require PAC’s intervention and it is crucial for PAC to plan for these scenarios.
PAC said its volunteers would be trained in monitoring of potential risks and would be put in selected districts of potential risks and the training would look at mechanism of identifying the potential for violence.
PAC said it also initiated presidential interface on peace agreement which the presidential candidates are expected to sign, explaining that it is important for the candidates to join the conflict management process because the electoral process is always sensitive.
Chingota said: “Given that violent acts have already surfaced in some parts of Malawi, PAC wishes to factor in nine mediation/facilitation of dialogue meetings among opponents…given that violent acts cannot be predicted, a number of nine meetings is an estimate and will depend on the availability of a flexible funding window.”
Mbendera said in an interview after the meeting around 8pm that the question on whether MEC is infiltrated was immaterial.
He said the matter should be whether MEC is going to deliver.
On the issue of capacity, Mbendera said MEC has what it takes to deliver and would run the forthcoming elections in an acceptable manner.
Chingota said after the meeting that PAC is confident that MEC will do the things well.