Elections BDO audit report an eye-opener on ‘Tippexed’ election results

“Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy. 17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord. — Isaiah 54:16-17

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malawi and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) requested audit report from Jordan-based auditors BDO as part of the support in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Among the tasks was to verify that the results received at the constituency tally centres and the National Tally Centre are mathematically correct.

The summary of the report, marked confidential and signed on May 31 2019, showcases findings from the forms MEC presented to BDO at the National Tally Centre highlighting the following: 273 Tippexed (corrected with the white corrector fluid), 65 manually amended forms, 45 forms with missing signatures, and 66 forms with missing political parties signatures.  

Last week, this column posed questions to Prophet Shepherd Bushiri following his press conference where Malawian journalists were briefed on his desire for peace to return in Malawi.

The article, titled Some Questions and Pointers for Prophet Bushiri was not well-received by some of his followers and even those of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Numerous comments flighted on social media looked at the article as querying the man of God. While there is inadequate space here to counter the general flow of those rants, the BDO report (despite being confidential, has been made publicly available all over the place) appears to throw weight to the side of the millions of Malawians that have doubted the integrity of the election result announcemed by MEC.

The auditors verified only 60 percent of the presidential tally sheets; while 24 percent of the sheets were Tippexed, six percent manually amended, another six percent had missing political parties signature, and four percent had missing signatures.

Alas, Malawians have lost confidence in the exercise due to the anomalies on many tally sheets that are elucidated in the audit.

According to BDO findings, “A significant number of Form 66 were over scribbled. As a result, most of Form 66 became a mess and therefore needed to be replaced by duplicate forms, manually prepared forms, which were completed at the constituency tally centres. Some of the forms were excessively Tippexed by presiding officers to do their corrections.”

How was it possible that presiding officers had Tippex in the tally centres? Who provided these? The dubious activities on Form 66 brings the entire election process into great disrepute.

The report recounts numerous wrong doings during the tally exercises, among them, suspected manipulations of results with many presiding officers leaving their stations, signatures not being attained from all parties; some presiding officers were unwilling to recognise the role of the auditors. The Army stepped in to stop this. Then there was numerous capturing of wrong information, submission of incorrect forms.

In short, the May 21 Tripartite Elections give the appearance of this being our first ever elections. We have done this before: in the one-party times, in a referendum, in the multiparty setting.

What went wrong in May 2019? It’s not rocket science. It’s not difficult to see. The answer lies in the fact that some people want to cheat at this; they’ve gone to the supreme extent to accomplish this, including giving monetary handouts, eliminating people in the know, including their own people, and trying to silence opposition viewpoints.

This is not what democracy looks like.

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