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Election Set

Government to release K10 billion today

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Eisenhower Mkaka

The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale has outlined activities towards the June 23 fresh presidential election signifying that the election is set despite facing a K10 billion budget deficit.

Thursday, government was pressurised to release K10 billion to Mec for election funding, totaling to K19 billion, the money disbursed so far, with a short fall of K10 billion.

Kachale, despite expressing displeasure on how the government was disbursing the money, said all was set for the election with ballot papers arriving in the country today.

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“Yesterday [Wednesday] we got communication from Minister of Finance that because of the provision section 9(1) (b) of Reserve Bank of Malawi Act, the Ministry was constrained to advance any money to the Commission and that could only happen on July 1.

“When we reported to parliament, they reconvened and the outcome of the meeting has resulted in K10 billion being provided which will be accessed by tomorrow [today]. As we speak all activities pertaining to the implementation of our mandate are underway,” he said.

On vehicles Kachale said the Chief Secretary told the Commission that they might not have enough vehicles as required because some of the vehicles are being used to support management of Covid-19.

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“We then started to hire private cars to continue with our activities. All these needed money. UNDP has promised to give us the vehicles on condition that government will fund the rest of the budget,” he said.

Four commissioners Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Arthur Nanthuru and Steve Duwa missed the press briefing but Kachale explained that this was due to court summons that the Commissioners had received following their recent appointment to the Commission.

“Even though I am yet to see the letters, what I have heard is that, the letters are not barring them from executing their duties as commissioners. But you will understand that because they have received the letters this evening, they have asked for time to go through them with their legal advisers. They have been given seven days to respond,” he said.

Thursday morning, Kachale and other commissioners met joint parliamentary committees of Public Accounts, Budget and Finance and Legal Affairs alongside Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha and Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Dalitso Kabambe where government agreed to release the K10 billion to the Commission by today morning.

The development means that from the K29.1 billion, the Commission has accessed K19.1 billion to assist the electoral activities including trainings and procurement of polling supplies.

The delay in disbursement of funds irked some of the party representatives and other stakeholders at the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting who accused government of frustrating the electoral process.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka vowed that the elections would take place.

“We struggled to set the date for the election. We used all the necessary powers. Get assured from us that we will hold these elections,” he said.

People’s Party secretary general Ibrahim Matola and MCP Member of Parliament Richard Chimwendo Banda blamed government for the delay despite Parliament approving the funds for the election.

Apart from funding, Kachale also told the stakeholders that the Commission is facing transportation challenges, citing a shortfall of 226 trucks and 1,379 station wagons.

“The Commission also needs 20 boats. During the Transport Task Force meetings there has been an assurance of six boats from the Malawi Police Service but they also need to be repaired by the Commission to be functional.

“The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has not yet communicated how many boats they are going to help us with. For some areas, we need to fly and we need three helicopters. We are yet to conclude the discussion with the MDF,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Commission has made several changes to the electoral process. Among others, Mec said each political party will provide two representatives per polling station and two at district tally centers to reduce congestion.

Unlike in the previous elections, no roving party monitors will be allowed because it is not provided in the law.

Kachale said at the national tally centre, 10 party representatives will have access to the premises with domestic observers.

Mec Director of Information Communication Technology, Muhabi Chisi, said all null and void ballot papers must find their way to national tally centre in another envelope to be labeled “miscellaneous forms”.

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