The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has told the Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurance and Public Service Reforms that the electoral body is facing financial challenges which are seriously affecting some of its operations.
The electoral body is in the process of preparing for the second Tripartite Elections scheduled for 2019.
Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah told the committee on Tuesday that currently the body is facing serious transport problems as its fleet, which was supposed to be replaced in 2013, is aged.
She said the government bought 10 Land Cruisers only and all of them were taken by the old commissioners as part of their conditions of service.
The current commissioners have no official vehicles allocated to them and some are using their personal vehicles for official errands.
“The use of aged fleet has increased maintenance costs which erode a good part of funding for recurrent transactions. These vehicles are in a bad shape and constantly break down. The state of these vehicles poses a great risk to Mec staff who continues to use them due to shortage of vehicles,” Ansah said.
She said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has managed to procure three saloons, two Toyota Fortuners, three trucks, one 32-seater minibus and three Toyota Hilux pickups.
“But these vehicles are not enough to meet the transport requirements for Mec. We will continually engage the relevant authorities and all institutions of goodwill to come in and assist with resources and equipment in order to perform to the expected standards,” she said.
The Mec chairperson also said the body is facing warehousing and office space challenges.
The electoral body has no purpose built warehouses, no offices in the regions and uses rented premises instead.
The same office space challenges extend to district offices as Mec is hosted in council offices, most of which are in a dilapidated state.
“In the long term, Mec would want to delink the district offices from the councils so that they stand alone. This will foster the perception of independence for the commission,” Ansah said.
According to Mec, even the comprehensive functional review for the institution has stalled due to financial challenges.
Mec has never undergone a comprehensive functional review since it was established and this means that the structure for the commission has remained static.
To address the problem, a consultant was engaged and recommended that a comprehensive functional review of the Commission should be carried out.
The Department of Human Resources Management and Development under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) was engaged to conduct the exercise but financial challenges have stalled the project.
“The commission has, therefore, factored in the budget for 2017/18 a component to commence and conduct a functional review process,” the Mec chairperson said.
Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurance and Public Service Reforms Harry Mkandawire advised the electoral body to continuously involve stakeholders on its operations for solutions on the challenges.
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