The Electoral Commission (EC) is facing its biggest task yet in the history of the country’s democracy: manage three elections in 2014.
But in spite of the onerous task that lies ahead for EC, ordinary Malawians and politicians have the confidence that the commission has the technical capacity and political independence to conduct the polls.
These sentiments were captured in a survey and interviews Nation on Sunday conducted during the week.
The survey was asking people whether they believe EC can manage presidential, parliamentary and local government elections in 2014.
Out of 814 respondents who participated in the poll, 432, representing 53 percent, expressed confidence in the commission. The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews by a team of correspondents and reporters in 18 districts.
The survey is a huge boost to the commission given the controversy that has traditionally characterised its management of elections.
UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga on Saturday said his party has no reason to doubt the capacity of the commission to handle the three elections concurrently.
“We expect satisfactory results and our confidence is partly derived from the composition of the commission itself and also from the way the chairperson handled the issue of Vice-President Khumbo Kachali’s being made overseer of the EC. That gave us a lot of hope unless something to the contrary happens in the future,” said Ndanga.
Following Kachali’s appointment as minister responsible for EC, chairperson of the electoral body Maxon Mbendera protested the decision and asked President Joyce Banda to change course.
Mbendera’s reaction to the appointment was a bold stand given that chairpersons of the commission normally avoid making public statements against decisions of the Executive, especially the president.
For DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, Mbendera’s position on the Kachali issue gave the party confidence that EC has the capacity and independence to manage the elections in 2014.
“Even the way the chairperson handled the Kachali/EC issues showed that he is able to rise above partisan politics. That is enough indicator that it can handle the elections and for us to trust the commission.
“If they begin preparations now and consult stakeholders, they should manage the election effectively. We also believe that there is a need for a parallel tally centre to provide checks and balances,” said Dausi.
EC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulira said the commission is committed to delivering credible elections in 2014.
“We have been conducting elections for close to 20 years now and we have accumulated enough experience which we will continue to build on to improve our services. We know that a government is as legitimate as the election that ushered it into office; as such, we have strived to conduct credible elections in the country and it stands as a gratifying point that no general election has been successfully challenged and overturned in a court of law,” said Mwafulirwa.