Malawi Police Service (MPS) might not provide all security officers that Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) needs for the second phase of the voter registration exercise that set to start today.
But Mec says it will engage other security institutions to fill the gap.
Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said MPS indicated that it may not provide all the officers needed for the exercise due to Covid-19 operations.
The electoral body had suspended the first phase of the registration exercise in Blantyre City over security concerns after some criminals had destroyed registration equipment to sabotage the process.
Mwafulirwa, however, said the registration exercise will proceed as planned even if the commission fails to secure security personnel for the exercise.
“As we were preparing for phase two, the police indicated that they may not provide all the officers we need because of their commitment to Covid-19 operations.
“The commission is engaging other security institutions to fill the gap. Should we not succeed, we will still proceed with voter registration even without security,” he said.
Mwafulirwa added that the July 2, 2020 fresh presidential election is being implemented following a calendar with very tight deadlines and cannot afford any slippages.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera asked for more time to comment on their preparedness to provide security during the voter registration exercise.
“I will have to consult because there are developments which are taking place,” he said.
But social commentator Makhumbo Munthali has cast doubt on police’s sincerity in their decision of not providing all the required security for the voter registration exercise which already faced a great test in Blantyre.
Munthali said with a total lockdown not in place in the country, the police cannot claim to be overwhelmed with operations related to Covid-19.
“There are just some restrictions which cannot require the whole police service to enforce. They should not use Covid-19 as a scapegoat. The police have the primary responsibility of providing internal security and for them to say they will not manage to do that in the voter registration centres does not make sense,” Munthali said.
He further warned that such conduct by the security institution will continue to erode its trust in the eyes of the public that already sees MPS as being significantly compromised.
So far, there is no any arrest in relation to the Blantyre vandalism while the suspected criminal who the police released on bail is yet to be taken to court.
In an interview then, Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah said the commission reported the matter to the police who were already working on it.
Southern Region Police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani said the matter is still under investigation.
The criminals vandalised registration property at Makata Primary School, Ndirande Hill, Blantyre Secondary School and Chirimba Primary School registration centres.
Meanwhile, Malawi Congress Party spokesperson Maurice Munthali has charged that the laxity in security that Mec is showing clearly indicates the electoral body wants to get the registration exercise suspended again.
“There is no way someone would walk into a Mec facility and break their property if government and Mec were serious on security.
“By failing to provide the security this time, it means that Mec was planning to allow people to break and destroy the property again as a ploy to cancel the registration exercise again. What we have to tell them is that our eyes and ears are open,” Munthali said.
The second phase of the voter registration exercise is expected to run from today to May 10 in Rumphi, Likoma, Dowa, Lilongwe District, Lilongwe City, Luchenza Municipality, Phalombe, Mulanje and Thyolo.