Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it is satisfied with the progress of voter verification exercise for the November 10 by-elections currently underway in Mangochi North East constituency despite a court injunction obtained by an independent candidate to stop the electoral body from conducting fresh registration.
MEC Chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale made the remarks on Wednesday after visiting the constituency’s several centres to monitor progress of the exercise.
This was his first visit since the independent candidate, Martin Sekati Nyengo challenged MEC to stop it from conducting new voter registration.
In an interview, Kachale expressed happiness with the progress of the ongoing voter verification exercise, saying despite the court injunction the exercise is pacing well.
“It is gratifying to note that despite the court order restraining us from conducting the voter registration, the other exercise of voter verification is moving well,” he stated.
Kachale said the commission feared eligible voters might be confused with the injunction but going through their daily records, everything is moving well.
“Of course, there was confusion during the first days after the injunction was obtained but after a vigorous mobilization campaign that we carried through our civic and voter staff, things tremendously improved and we are doing well,” disclosed the MEC Chairperson.
He, however, expressed worry over monitors’ failure to record complaints in challenge appeal books, revealing that of all the 5 centres he visited no monitor recorded complaints in the books.
“I think this is a major challenge that exposes lack of civic education on the part of monitors because these books are important as all critical concerns noticed by them are recorded into these books,” pointed out Kachale.
Asked about MEC’s preparedness about the by-elections, he said the electoral body expects to conduct a successful election, and so far so good there are no glitches save for the injunction case at Mangochi North East Constituency.
“We are set to deliver a successful election. As of the injunction, we are just waiting for the court to give us time so that they can hear our side,” said Kachale.
Meanwhile, the district’s National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust has commended Kachale’s visit to the centres, saying it helps to detect some challenges which the commission can work on.
“This is good in as far as holding of free, fair and credible elections is concerned,” said Turner Banda, the district’s Nice civic education officer.
MEC is holding by-elections in five constituencies and one ward following court rulings that annulled four May 21 parliamentary election results and death of Karonga Central legislator and a Makhuwira South ward councilor in Chikwawa.
The constituencies where the by-elections will be held are Mangochi North East, Mangochi West, Phalombe North, Karonga Central, Lilongwe North West and Makhuwira South Ward in Chikwawa East.