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Lilongwe voter certificates found in Mangochi

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By Yohane Symon:

Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) have asked Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to investigate how 751 voter registration certificates for people of Lilongwe Msinja North Constituency were found at Thema 1 Primary School in Mangochi District.

It is reported that immediately after a Mec team, which was conducting the verification exercise at the school left on Sunday, some children who were playing at the facility found an envelope containing the certificates and handed them over to the school’s authorities.

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Thereafter, various political party representatives were notified to check if the certificates were for people from the area, only to discover that they were for voters from the Lilongwe constituency.

Information on the envelopes indicates that the certificates are for Mlare registration centre in Bunda Ward.

In an interview, MCP deputy director of social services, Gerald Kazembe, who is also an aspiring member of Parliament for Mangochi Monkey Bay Constituency, expressed shock that the certificates ended up in the hands of Mec staff instead of the owners.

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“We are really puzzled. We have notified the police about the certificates that have been found. But what we are interested in is for the electoral commission to establish why the certificates were not in the custody of the owners. This is a serious violation of the electoral process, which needs an immediate solution,” he said.

Mesn Chairperson, Steve Duwa, said the recovery of the certificates raises serious questions which Mec should answer.

“For voter certificates to be found in the hands of other people other than the owners is a serious issue. We are hearing a lot of issues surrounding the elections and Mec needs to clear its image by explaining these issues to the public,” Duwa said.

Duwa said there are indicators that the electoral process is not being handled professionally, raising fears that somebody is tampering with it.

“These issues might appear small but we urge Mec to start working with the police to investigate and bring to book all suspects. We believe that it will be easy for Mec to trace the people who were keeping these certificates because we are made to believe that they are working with the commission,” Duwa said.

In a statement released Thursday, signed by Mec Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika, the commission says it has dispatched a team to Mangochi to investigate what happened for the certificates to be found there.

“The commission is also questioning all temporary and permanent staff that worked in the two centres [Mlare in Lilongwe and Thema 1 in Mangochi] during voter registration and verification, respectively.

“Meanwhile, t h e commission has checked the voter registration records of Mlare School and the duplicate certificates for all the registrants are intact in the books whose total summary was signed off by monitors of political parties that were present during the voter registration process as attached,” reads the statement.

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