The Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security on Friday had a fruitless ‘busy day’ investigating rumours that some establishments in Blantyre were keeping ballot papers for Tuesday’s fresh presidential election.
The committee, led by its chairperson Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, invaded Blantyre City Council (BCC) and Fattani Offset Printers where they inspected offices, warehouses and factory, looking for the alleged illegal electoral material.
However, after the day-long exercise, the team, which was accompanied by senior police officers and lawyers, did not find any suspicious electoral material.
In an interview after the tour, Ng’oma said they, as an oversight committee of Parliament were following up information it received that BCC had ballot papers in its warehouse and was mounting a parallel tally centre for the election.
He said Parliament was also tipped-off that the Malawi Police Service (MPS) was distributing uniforms to non-police officers at BCC to impersonate police officers during Tuesday’s elections.
“Unfortunately, we found nothing save for stacks of party flags for the Democratic Progressive Party and the United Democratic Front.
“We queried the CEO why he was keeping such material and we have since asked him to write a report and explain why and how such party materials were found at a public institution,” explained Ng’oma.
At Fattani, the committee discovered that the company has equipment that was previously used for printing ballot papers on behalf of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for by-elections under restricted tendering.
But Fattani Offset Printers sales director Ahmed Razak said the company had nothing to hide because reports accusing them of printing fake ballot papers were hurting the company.
“We have nothing to conceal in dirty transactions. We cannot ignore such reports because they will ruin our businesses. We are not, in anyway, connected to any politician or companies that have printed the ballot papers in Dubai as alleged,” said Razak. and fear because we don’t engage
Ng’oma also said they will query MEC to establish why government is spending billions to print ballot papers in Dubai when there are local companies with the capacity to print.
According to him, the team will be proceeding to Dubai for fact finding mission on the issue of printing fake ballot papers.