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December 17, 2013

Malawi Electoral Commission Pleased With Voter Registration

by Peter Clottey

The spokesman for Malawi’s Electoral Commission says the group is encouraged with the level of participation in the voter registration process leading up to next year’s general election.

Sangwani Mwafulirwa says the voter registration, which began on July 22, is in 10 phases lasting two weeks each and is scheduled to be finished on Wednesday.

The electoral commission is compiling a voter list that would be used for the presidential, parliamentary and local elections scheduled for May 20, 2014. Mwafulirwa outlined electoral commission’s plans to compile the voter list in the run up to the vote.

“When we started the first phase of the first day registration, the number of people coming were so high so we thought maybe it was just the first day rush, but the numbers have maintained throughout the first phase,” said Mwafulirwa, the electoral commission spokesman.

“And when we came to the second phase, we are seeing the same thing, and now we are in the third phase and the turnout is quite good.              

“We are going to come up with the initial voter registration that should be around February next year," the electoral commission spokesman said. "And we are going to display the initial voter registration roll in all the centers so that people can go and check out all their details.

"After that is when we are going to start printing the final register and that should be around March next year,” said Mwafulirwa.             

Some prospective voters have called for an extension of the voter registration process citing poor education and confusion.

But Mwafulirwa disagreed that the electoral body was ill-prepared to educate voters ahead of the registration process.

“The Electoral Commission has put up quite an impressive strategy as far as civic educating people on registration,” said Mwafulirwa.

“We have our commissioners going into areas where we are doing registration, teaching people about how they will be handled when they go to the registration centers. We have been running mass media campaigns, all targeting the registration. We have our staff who are also helping in the registration.”

He says the electoral group intends to produce a dependable and transparent voter list for the elections.

Mwafulirwa says participating political parties and other stakeholders are monitoring the voter registration process to ensure its credibility.

“This is a fresh voter roll and that means that all people who have died but were still on the list, will no longer appear again. We have encouraged all political parties and other stakeholders to place their monitors in all the registration centers. That means they are checking and observing each and every process that is taking place,” said Mwafulirwa.

The Electoral Commission has established the National Elections Consultative Forum, which includes all political parties and their representatives, the military, police, traditional rulers, government agencies and the country’s development partners as part of an effort to ensure a successful and peaceful election.

“In this program, we have a platform where we are discussing all issues with elections. If the Electoral Commission has got an issue that it wants to have an input of all stakeholders, we bring this forum together and they discuss the issue,” said Mwafulirwa.

Clottey interview with Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Malawi electoral official