Opposition Members of Parliament have accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of planning to use the national identity cards to rig the 2019 elections.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators on Thursday called for the suspension of the national registration exercise saying government plans to register few people in the central region.
MCP legislators said in Parliament that children who are 16 years old, hence will be 18 by May 2018, are being turned away from registration centres in the central region.
The opposition legislators argued that many who are now aged 16 in southern and northern regions will be able to register by the time the registration exercise reaches the two regions, which they described as unfair and tantamount to electoral fraud since the IDs have been linked to voter registration for the 2019 elections.
Speaking in the August House, lawmaker for Kasungu central Amon Nkhata argued that the use of the national identity cards as one of recommendations for one to vote in the general elections is not good and must not be accepted.
Nkhata gave an example of his area where according to him the national identity registration is not accurate hence raising questions of whether the process is transparent and fair.
“Mr Speaker Sir, my area is among other areas where the exercise is taking place. However, there is strong evidence that DPP may rig the 2019 elections especially if voters will use these national IDs for voting,” he expressed the concern.
He told the House that in his area there are concerns like poor planning, no forms for some Malawians, poor public awareness and that some equipment used are in bad shape.
“Mr Speaker Sir, if the exercises faces such kind of problems, how do you except that the elections will be fair?”
Commenting on the point, Mchinji West lawmaker Jephter Mwale disclosed that all computers of National Registration Bureau (NRB) are not functioning in his area meaning that a good number of people will not have the IDs.
Addressing the House on the concerns, Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera proposed that the House should set up a committee to monitor the whole registration process.
Responding to the complaints, government deputy chief whip Grace Chiumia who is also Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security refuted claims that DPP is planning to use the IDs as tools to rig the by elections.
She told the parliamentarians that the House will be addressed on the complaints through a ministerial statement.
Mass nationwide identity registration process commenced early June in some districts in the central region like Nkhotakota, Kasungu, Ntchisi and Mchinji and so far over 100, 000 Malawians have been registered.
The registration exercise is scheduled to end in December, 2017.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on 31 May, 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Initiative for Civic Education and NRB to use the IDs for the 2019 elections.
The MoU means MEC will use national IDs issued by NRB when conducting voter registration for 2019 polls, to develop voters’ identity as a way of ensuring that there are no duplicates and multiple entries and as proof of voters’ identity on election day.