April 25, 2014
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Malawi Electoral Commission

Malawi Electoral Commission

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has snubbed the country’s political parties for possible funding during the forthcoming first tripartite elections, Newstime Africa has learnt. Malawi is scheduled to hold a tripartite election in May 2014 and MEC is on a nationwide ward demarcation consultative tour during which at a meeting for Blantyre Rural the electoral body was confronted as to why it only fend for its monitors and ignore the monitors that represent political parties.

“Our concern is that MEC does not support political parties during the elections period yet we start the preparations together but when it comes the voting day, we are left to fend for ourselves,” reasoned a team leader for political parties present at the deliberations.

While sympathizing with the party monitors that they end up staying the whole day on empty stomachs and spending the night with guards if votes counting ends in the night, MEC shot down the suggestion that the electoral body ditch allowances to party monitors.

“The monitors that different parties engage to observe the electoral process are affiliated to respective political parties and therefore are supposed to be on the pay role of the respective political parties.

“Do not expect the Malawi Electoral Commission or the District Commissioner to pay the monitors for you. That it must be made clear and understood by all,” declared Commissioner Sam Biliati.

Commissioner Biliati advised the political parties to be prepared on how to handle their monitors and tell them the truth and not push responsibilities and blame to the electoral body or councils.

He added: “It is the responsibility of political parties to look into the welfare of their monitors just as it is with any other organization on those it engages to work for it.”

During the same hearing people pushed for an increase of voting centres a concern that was corroborated by the District Commissioner.

“We really need more centres as people walk very long distances to cast their vote which is a setback as the number of people whose voice is heard is compromised,” observed Blantyre DC Charles Makanga.

Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Bernard Malango applauded that the ward demarcation public hearings that they are creating an opportunity to bring the elections closer to the people, and that the commission is ready to consider people’s views only that in its dealings MEC has to go by the existing laws.

According to the Electoral Commission Amendment Bill of 2010 each constituency should have two wards except for the Blantyre and Lilongwe which can have up to 30 wards, while Mzuzu 15 with Zomba 10 wards.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that electoral stakeholders have finalized making recommendations that seek to harmonize the country’s electoral laws so that they should be in tandem with tripartite elections the country is expected to hold in 2014.

MEC recently revealed to the media that the recommendations were made during a meeting with a task force and the aim was to isolate the provisions that were contradicting each other and make proposals that will help the country conduct the tripartite elections efficiently.

Members of parliament in Malawi passed a Tripartite Elections Bill during the last parliamentary sitting that allows the country to hold the three-tier elections.

Other than MEC and party monitors, the electoral process is closely monitored by the civil society organizations-both local and international, donor community, and international observers representing different groups, governments and forums. All are paid by their respective employers.

© 2013, Peter Chipanga. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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Peter Chipanga is Newstime Africa's Southern Africa Editor

Peter Chipanga
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