The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it will revisit registration centres in the seven districts under first phase of voter registration exercise to compensate for a day registration was not conducted due to a pending COVID-19 lockdown.
In a statement released on Thursday, MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika said the Commission will do that after the last phase of registration exercise.
“The Commission is aware that phase one ended prematurely and it will revisit the Councils after the last phase of voter registration to ensure that all registration centres have ran for the minimum of statutory period of 14 days,” reads part of the statement.
Phase one of voter registration exercise took place in Chitipa, Karonga, Salima, Dedza, Blantyre, Chikwawa and Nsanje from April 4 to 16 instead of April 17 as MEC abruptly stopped the exercise after government had imposed a 21-day lockdown that was later challenged in court by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
However, the country’s two major political parties have received the news with mixed reactions.
In an interview, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said the one-day compensation is not enough as National Registration Bureau (NRB) deployed its officers to the seven districts one week after the exercise had begun.
“Much as we are happy with the development, as a party we would be much grateful if MEC had also extended registration exercise for NRB to ensure that every eligible person is registered into voter’s register considering that it took almost one week for NRB to deploy its officers to centres. So, to be fair, they could have added five more days,” Mkaka said.
While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said his party just follows what MEC says in its electoral calendar.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa in an interview said the decision on whether to extend voter registration or not will be made by the Commission.
The second phase of voter registration exercise will begin on Monday, April 27 up to May 10 in Rumphi, Likoma, Dowa, Lilongwe District, Lilongwe City, Luchenza Municipality, Phalombe, Mulanje and Thyol.