Some commendable work has been done, so far. But much more must be accomplished, if Malawi is to have truly free, fair and credible general elections in 2019.
This is the conclusion the European Union Election Follow-up Mission (EFM) has given the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and the government in their efforts to address a number of concerns and recommendations the 2014 EU Election Observer Mission (EOM) had made after the 2014 polls.
The EFM, led by director for Africa at the European External Action Service Birgitte Markussen, gave the ‘improve much more’ verdict in a press release in Lilongwe yesterday.
The mission met President Peter Mutharika and other key stakeholders. The mission departed Malawi earlier today.
Reflecting on the main challenges which had dogged the conduct of Malawi’s polls in 2014, the release showed that some substantial work was yet to be done on the recommendations around voter registration, election day preparations, results management, malpractices during campaigns and the abuse of state resources.
“Many of the EU EOM’s recommendations could be addressed if the proposed legal reforms are adopted and the administrative reforms envisaged by MEC are implemented. Addressing the shortcomings observed in both 2009 and 2014 will be critical to strengthen Malawi’s democratic process and maintain public confidence,” the release stated.
The mission observed that, among other things, much needed to be done towards the EU EOM’s recommendation for the introduction of requirements for parties to disclose sources of funding and details on campaign expenditure.
“We welcome that some aspects of this have been proposed in the draft Political Parties Bill. However, the draft bill does not contain adequate disclosure requirements on private funding of parties nor any requirements for disclosures on campaign spending, which could help to increase trasparency and accountability.
“We note also that there is no clear mechanism to enforce the ban on misuse of state resources,” the release pointed out.
It pointed to several other hanging issues, including MEC’s intention to use, for verification, the new national identity cards citizens are acquiring. The mission said that while this would be a boon to the process, caution needed to be applied, to ensure the use of the tool only if it will be realistic, viable and deliverable before the next polls.