Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said preparations for the 2019 Tripartite Elections are on course despite Treasury delaying to disburse its first quarter funding for the financial year 2017/18.
MEC’s explanation clarifies fears from some electoral stakeholders who suggested that MEC’s delay to roll out implementation of some preliminary activities in the run-up to the polls would affect the credibility of the results.
For the 2017/18 financial year, MEC is expected to receive K10.8 billion for its preparatory activities beginning with K3 billion to cover the year’s first quarter.
However, MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa confirmed they were yet to receive the K3 billion from Treasury for implementation of some preliminary activities.
“This amount has not been received yet. Treasury is in the process of releasing it,” he said in a written response to a questionnaire.
Mwafulirwa said despite the developments, preparations for the 2019 elections were on course and “all stakeholders should be assured of the highest commitment by the Commission to deliver a credible election”.
He said currently the electoral body was identifying and accrediting civil society organisations (CSOs) before conducting applicants’ physical verification to ensure only credible organisations are considered.
But one of the electoral stakeholders, the National Elections Systems Trust (Nest), has accused the commission of being mean with the truth by failing to acknowledge the challenges it is currently facing.
Nest executive director Unandi Banda urged the body to tell Malawians the truth regarding its capacity challenges to efficiently carry out the activities.
He said: “MEC should acknowledge the challenges they currently have. As of now, the body is not complete to perform effective preparations for the elections. Commissioners are not officers who do the day- to-day-work.
“The commission does not have a leader. There is no chief elections officer, no director of finance and the person who had vast experience in civic and voter education passed on while acting as chief elections officer, they should accept all these challenges and to say that all is well is not correct unless those vacancies are filled.”
Some electoral stakeholders, including opposition political parties, last week described MEC’s delays to implement the activities as a “deliberate move to rig” the 2019 polls for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
But Mwafulirwa said the calendar issued earlier this year “was not cast in stone” as it was subject to review depending on prevailing circumstances and situations. n