News / Africa

Malawi to Re-open Preliminary Voters List to Public

Supporters of the then-ruling United Democratic Front rallied for the 2004 national elections in Bagwe. Efforts to limit MPs to two five-year terms face heavy opposition in the National Assembly.
Supporters of the then-ruling United Democratic Front rallied for the 2004 national elections in Bagwe. Efforts to limit MPs to two five-year terms face heavy opposition in the National Assembly.
Peter Clottey
Malawi’s Electoral Commission plans to re-open a preliminary voter list to the public on Wednesday that will allow prospective voters to verify their information.

The electoral body is compiling a voters list that will be used for the presidential, legislative and local elections scheduled for May 20. The commission suspended an initial phase of the voter compilation phase on March 26 after encountering logistical challenges.

Sangwani Mwafulirwa, spokesperson for the electoral commission says the electoral body has resolved some of the technical challenges that forced the suspension of the name verification phase of the voter list compilation.

“We are reopening the centers for voter verification exercise. This is an exercise, which we had suspended because there were some inconsistency challenges that we had with the voters roll so the commission thought it was to suspend it and work on the challenges,” said Mwafulirwa.

“We did an analysis and the problem emanated from the extraction of the information from the data base. So, we have worked on that problem and we did double quality check on the voters roll that is coming out. So that gives us high confidence levels that what we will release to the public is of quality and at acceptable levels,” said Mwafulirwa.

He says the information verification process forms part of the electoral commission’s mandate as it prepares to administer Malawi’s first tripartite vote.

“What we are starting on Wednesday is the first phase,” said Mwafulirwa. “It is going to run from the 9th up to the 13th. Then we are going to come again and announce the second phase and the districts which would be covered in the second phase,” he said.

Some political parties have expressed concern that the electoral commission appears ill prepared to organize the general election. They cited the logistical problem that forced the suspension of the voter list compilation as an example of the commission’s failure to effectively plan its activities in the run up to the election.

But, Mwafulirwa says the electoral commission is confident that it will produce a credible voters list to be used for the vote.

“I cannot indication how much time it will take to rectify or even update the voters roll after the verification period. Because that would be determined by the issues that may be noted during the voter verification exercise,” said Mwafulirwa. “If they are many that means we would need more time. But if they are not many that mean we may not need more time,” he said.

Mwafulirwa says the electoral body has implemented measures to ensure the voters list is ready, and on time to be used for the poll.

But, some critics say the election should be postponed after accusing the electoral commission of incompetence.

Mwafulirwa disagrees.                               

“We are not postponing the elections,” said Mwafulirwa. “The issue at hand with the voters roll is manageable and what people should know is that there are several activities to do with the elections which are not dependent on the voters roll and those are proceeding [and] the only thing that comes after the voters roll is the printing of the ballot papers,” he said.
Clottey interv with Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Electoral Commission Spokesperson
Clottey interv with Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Electoral Commission Spokespersoni
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