Funding woes cripple Malawi Electoral Commission operations


Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has postponed indefinitely voter registration and verification exercise for local government by-elections initially slated for June 23 following government’s delay in funding the elections within the current financial year.

The exercise was supposed to run from Friday last week to tomorrow in all the five wards where the by-elections are expected to take place.

In a statement dated 8 May 2015, Mec Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga says following the delay in funding, the electoral body has been unable to recruit and train registration staff, print the voters register for verification, buy registration materials and conduct mobilisation meetings for the exercise.


“The Commission will advise on a new date and a revised calendar for the by-elections once the situation becomes clearer,” says Kalonga.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has faulted government for failing to accord the local government by-elections proper attention.

Mesn says it “strongly” expresses its concern with the uncertainty of the elections because it undermines the importance of Local Government structures in the consolidation of democracy apart from undermining the important role of councils in development projects.


The election monitoring body further observes that the uncertainty undermines citizen participation and representation in that they are not fully involved in decision-making processes at local level.

“The uncertainty of the calendar also has [the] potential effect of affecting preparations and the participation of other stakeholders which can greatly compromise the quality of the elections,” reads in part a statement signed by Mesn chairperson Steven Duwa.

Mesn has further called for electoral reforms that should culminate in Mec’s autonomy in all dimensions of operations and finance, arguing the current situation – where the Ministry of Finance is determining when elections can be held – compromises the electoral body’s independence.

“This is tantamount to usurping the powers of [Mec]. Mesn thinks the independence of [Mec] can be guarded if a protected funding scheme is set up. Mec should not be going to the Ministry of Finance to beg for money that has already been appropriated by Parliament,” reads the statement.

The by-elections are expected to take place in the following wards: Luchenza in Luchenza Municipal Council, Zomba Central in Zomba City Council, Msikisi in Mangochi Town Council, Chibanja in Mzuzu City Council and Khwawa in Karonga District Council.

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