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Mec blames DCs in by-election scandal

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Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has implicated district councils as the source of its regalia that was found with Vice President Saulos Chilima’s aide Moses Kuchingale.

On November 1, 2016, Kuchingale was cornered at Kamwendo Polling Station in Mchinji for wearing a Mec tag while by-elections in the district’s West Constituency were underway. Malawi Congress Party officials at the site demanded an explanation regarding the ‘Mec official’ tag but Kuchingale sped away.

Quizzed how Kuchingale got his hands on the Mec tag and whether it was an inside arrangement, Mec Chairperson for Electoral Services Jean Mathanga implicated district councils as a possible source of the tag and revealed that there are many such tags and other regalia at the councils since the referendum in 1993.

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“We are very sure that Kuchingale got the tag from a district council because that is the only place the tags are found. But we are yet to get the official report from the investigators. Investigations are still underway,” she said.

She said the 1993 regalia have to be taken out of the councils as they could be finding their way out for bad reasons.

“Our suspicion is that this was gotten from the DCs office since it was an old badge. For your information, we have discovered that some DC offices are keeping badges from the 1993 referendum and the 1994 elections. These will have to be taken out,” said Mathanga in a response to our questionnaire.

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Mathanga insisted that there was no arrangement between Mec and Kuchingale to get the tag.

But asked how safe and credible the 2019 elections would be considering that the regalia can be accessed easily and be abused, Mathanga said: “[The] safety for the 2019 elections is guaranteed. Mec is meeting on Wednesday and the Mchinji incident is one of the issues to be looked at.”

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development officials were not available for comment regarding the regalia kept in district councils.

In the Mchinji by-election, MCP retained the constituency in a tightly contested race with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party which saw President Peter Mutharika and his deputy, Chilima, and other party officials vigorously campaigning for their candidate.

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