The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has moved to June 26 the start of the voter registration exercise that was earlier scheduled to begin on May 25.
According to a statement released yesterday, the exercise, which is in readiness for the forthcoming 2019 Tripartite Elections, is earmarked to run in six phases with the first phase starting on June 26 to July 9 in Kasungu Municipality Mchinji, Dowa, Ntchisi, Nkhotakota and Kasungu districts.
The second phase scheduled to run from July 13 to 26 will be conducted in Lilongwe City, Likoma, Salima and Lilongwe districts whereas the third phase will run from July 30 to August 12 in Blantyre City, Dedza, Ntcheu, Nsanje, Blantyre districts.
The fourth phase from August 16 to 29 will cover Luchenza Municipality, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Thyolo, Phalombe, Mulanje, Chikwawa and while the fifth phase will start on September 2 to 15 and will cover Mangochi Town and Zomba City, Mangochi, Balaka, Machinga and Zomba districts.
The final phase is expected to cover Mzuzu City, Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay districts.
In the statement, MEC chief elections officer Salmy Alfandika said the change in the dates was necessitated by concerns raised by electoral stakeholders who observed during consultative meetings that the timeline set by MEC was not enough for adequate preparations and effective participation.
Besides, some of the raised concerns tackled identification and submission of political party monitors’ names and delayed funding to civil society organisations (CSOs) to conduct civic education.
“The commission consequently held an extraordinary meeting on Monday, April 30, to among other things, address the concerns raised during the two meetings. The commission has, therefore, resolved that the date for the commencement of voter registration be shifted to 26th June,” reads the statement in part.
In an earlier interview with The Nation, MEC commissioner Moffat Banda said those who have not yet received their national identity cards (IDs) must take with them their registration forms or ask for guidance at their nearest registration centre.
MEC commissioner Clifford Baloyi also emphasised that the use of IDs is not a replacement of MEC voter identity, but rather, will be the primary source of identification when registering voters.
The use of national IDs created a heated debate both in Parliament and outside as some feared it was a ploy to rig the elections. n