MEC not responsible for complaints on handouts

The country’s electoral body has disclosed that it will not be resolving any complaints on issuing of handouts to voters which are expected to arise now that the Political Parties Act, which bans issuing of handout to lure voters, is in operation.

The development comes as the Government is still setting up the office of the Registrar of Political Parties to oversee the governing of political parties in this Country as stipulated in the Political Parties Act of 2018 which was commenced four months ago.

Lawyer for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) David Matumika Banda disclosed this in Mzuzu on Monday at the opening of a two-day training of independent candidates from Northern Region.

Banda said that political party representatives and individuals who would like to report cases of handouts and other offences contravening the new Law should not go to MEC with their complaints but should report their to the Registrar General or write to the Multi-Party Liaison Committees which MEC has set up in all Districts across the Country.

“As a transition measure, before the office of the Registrar of Political Parties is set up to handle complaints, the Registrar General’s office will be receiving these complaints.

“So, MEC will not be resolving these issues. However, those who have complaints can also bring them to the Multi-Party Liaison Committees which are there to resolve conflict related to elections,” Banda said.

The Political Parties Law states that thePublic Service Commission should advertise the position of Registrar of Political Parties in the media, before the candidates can be interviewed then selected by the Minister of Justice, a choice which will be to the approval of the Public Appointments Committee.

According the Political Parties Act,the Registrar of Political Parties is mandated to operate autonomously without any without any political interference as they discharge their duties which will also include registering political parties and investigating toensure that all political parties are abiding by the Act.

Meanwhile, MEC’s Deputy Chief Elections Officer Responsible for Operations Harris Potani has urged representatives of independent candidates to take a role in ensuring that they utilize the proper tools, to resolve electoral conflict which have been put in place b the Multi-Party Liaison Committee to avoid violence during the election period.

“With the tense and suspicion thatsurrounds the electoral period, conflict are inevitable.

Therefore, we need to be prepared and have the capacity at all levels to handle conflict cases as they arise.

“I am grateful that the MPLCs are a peacebuilding mechanism in which political party leaders at district level work together with various stakeholders to strive to foster utilization of the proper conflict management method,” Potani said.

MEC established the MPLCs to assist in mitigating and managing electoral violence to ensure that violence does not reach alarming levels that can disrupt elections in Malawi.

The MPLCs are chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of the councils and comprise electoral stakeholders including; the District Commissioner, traditional leaders, representatives of political parties and MEC representatives.

So far, the MPLCs have been credited for contributing to Malawi’s peaceful build-up to the 2019 Tripartite Elections.