At exactly 11:30am Friday, ballot papers for the June 23, 2020 fresh presidential election arrived in the country through the Kamuzu International Airport (Kia) in Lilongwe from the United Arab Emirates.
The ballot papers arrived in full view of the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) officials, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and political party representatives.
Speaking upon the arrival of the ballot papers shipment, Mec Chairperson Chifundo Kachale said the commission will ensure all measures are followed in safeguarding and managing the ballot papers.
“We have witnessed the arrival of the ballot papers for next week’s fresh presidential election and we will let the parties and all stakeholders inspect them before distributing them to the districts,” he said.
Kachale also said Treasury had, by that time, released about K2.8 billion from the K10 billion which the commission had requested as the deficit from the election budget.
He was however, quick to disclose that about 600 station wagon vehicles are still in shortage but nonetheless Mec will proceed with its processes up to a time when all the remaining vehicles are identified.
MDF Brigadier General Blaise Saenda highlighted a few protocols in regards to the transportation of the ballot papers.
He urged people to refrain from following vehicles carrying the ballot papers.
“Motorists should maintain a distance of at least one kilometre between them and vehicles carrying ballot papers. Following the vehicles can lead to loss of lives if one is not careful,” Saenda said.
Tonse Alliance representative Howard Kachipanda, upon witnessing the arrival of the ballot papers, said he was satisfied with the way Mec is handling the ballots.
He further expressed hope that the security will remain the same until voting day.
“Let me applaud Mec for the management of the ballot papers…we have faith in the new Mec chairperson and it is our wish that this time around, all is going to be done according to plans. We will be following each and every step up to the polling day,” he said.
On his part, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) alliance representative Clement Stambuli said they are ready for the election, now that the ballot papers are in.
“We are ready for the election and we have faith that Mec will conduct a credible election,” Stambuli said.
Meanwhile, political parties through their respective alliances, are out and about wooing votes as campaign is expected to close tomorrow [Sunday] at 6:00am.
Speaking on how the DPP/UDF alliance is winding up their campaign, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said their alliance is not winding up their campaign on one designated spot.
Dausi said the alliance is calling on eligible voters to vote for their alliance as they will advance development and peace in the country.
“We are not going to be on one place…the President will be in Chitipa and Karonga, our running mate will be in the Eastern Region and all cabinet ministers and other party officials will be spread out around the country telling people about our plans.
“Our message remains the same, a message of hope and building the nation through various development projects, infrastructure development and security,” he said.
MCP’s director of campaign Moses Kunkuyu, on behalf of Tonse Alliance, said officials from their alliance have also spread out across the country, dashing for last minute votes.
“Our torch bearer Dr. Lazarus Chakwera will be holding a rally in Lilongwe at Masintha Ground, his running mate Dr. Saulos Chilima will be in Blantyre at Njamba Freedom Park while the former president Joyce Banda will be in Zomba and other senior members of the party will spread out across the country.
“As we conduct the final lap of our campaign, our message to the electorate is that the election is giving them an option to move from leaders that lie and not fulfill their words. If you look at the manifesto of the DPP it is a broken promise. Our team is bringing a government for the people that will end corruption and promote the rule law,” he said.
Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) said his party is winding up campaign in Mchinji District.
Kuwani said he is wrapping up his campaign with a message of uniting the nation through promoting oneness.
“Our message is that as a nation we should look at this election as an opportunity to reunite the nation regardless of which region one comes from or tribe of origin. It is a time to end this impunity that has been among us for so long,” he said.
Meanwhile, distribution of ballot papers will start immediately after all political parties have verified the ballot consignment.
Malawi goes to the polls on Tuesday after the Constitutional Court, through a five judge panel, had on February 3 this year nullified last year’s presidential election and ordered that a fresh one be held in 150 days, beginning from the day of the ruling.
The ruling was upheld by a seven member judge panel of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which had intimated that the lower court had even been lenient with the period given to conduct the exercise.