Political parties that are contesting the Lilongwe South parliamentary seat have commended Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for its preparedness for the upcoming polls.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) aspirant Peter Dimba and his UTM Party counterpart Samson Pinifolo said in separate interviews that, among other things, MEC has committed to ensure correction fluid (Tippex) is not used in the result management process of the January 30 2020 by-election.
The May 21 Tripartite Elections were marred by the use of Tippex to alter figures on result sheets. MEC denied the correction fluid was part of the inventory it supplied for the result management exercise.
Last week, MEC commissioner Jean Mathanga warned that anyone found using the correction fluid in managing results for the upcoming polls shall face the law.
This, according to Pinifolo, is a sign that shows the by-election, will be managed well.
He said: “Honestly, the preparations are so far running very smoothly. No challenge has been recorded and I hope this will continue. We commend the warning by MEC against using Tippex.
We just hope the presidential election ruling will not affect the elections, should it come before January 30.”
The use of Tippex led UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and MCP counterpart Lazarus Chakwera to petition the court to nullify the disputed presidential election results, which put President Peter Mutharika in the lead.
For the January 30 by-election, MEC has outlined a number of preventive measures to minimise irregularities.
In an interview yesterday, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the electoral body has intensified drilling of poll staff on how to handle and fill the forms when there is an error made during the result management process.
He said: “We have advised them to draft separately the results and transfer the final ones onto the result sheets. Should they find themselves in a situation they need to correct figures, they need to cross out. If they have soiled the result sheet so much, they have to use the reserve tally sheets.”
When contacted, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) aspirant Peter Mazizi asked for more time to comment on the processes, while MCP’s Dimba agreed with Pinifolo that MEC processes are inspiring confidence in a credible election.
Dimba said: “The preparations are going on well and, so far, we haven’t had any incidents of violence.”
Since the May 21 2019 Trpartite Elections results were announced, MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah, who is also a judge in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has been under pressure from the Human Rights Defenders Coalition to resign for presiding over a flawed election.
On November 5 2019, MEC conducted a by-election in Matenjere Ward in Kasungu. There was no report oF Tippex use.