Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah yesterday dispelled fears of network hitches following the pullout of one of the service providers, Airtel Malawi, saying the engaged companies have capacity to cover the whole country.
Addressing the media at the National Tally Centre in Blantyre, Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said MEC has also put in place a back-up system as a fallback plan in the event of a network hitch.
“I can confirm that Airtel Malawi pulled out, but TNM and MTL will cover the whole country and the two dry run tests have proved that the system is fine.
“Ours is a paper system and we will not announce the results before the audit has taken place. The paperwork back-up will be audited,” she said.
Meanwhile, a Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc) fellow Tyler Walton has urged Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) not to shut off access to phones, WhatsApp and other social media sites during the elections today.
In a statement issued yesterday, he said an Internet shutdown during the election or preceding the announcement of the results would be a grave violation of freedom of expression and access to information during one of the most important times in Malawi’s democracy, the elections.
Reads the statement in part: “Free and fair elections are an essential part of an open and democratic society. Section 77 of the Constitution guarantees the right of all Malawians to vote and participate in elections.
“Leaders who hamper elections to maintain power and prevent opposition damage the functioning of democracy and prevent citizens from fully exercising their rights.”
In a related development, Macra has asked the public to exercise caution when using social media to spread messages during the elections period.
In a statement signed by Macra director general Godfrey Itaye, the regulator warns the public that publication of false or misleading information may attract criminal as well as civil liability.”