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Mec shortfall raises fears

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Some political parties fear that the K7.5 billion shortfall in the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) budget for next year’s Tripartite Elections is a deliberate ploy by the government to rig the elections in favour of the ruling party.

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and Malawi Congress Party president, Lazarus Chakwera, claimed that the shortfall could be a ploy by the government to rig the elections.

“It is a pity when government stands on the mountain top and declares things that are not [okay]. We do not want to come to a position where certain materials will not be sufficient when it is a deliberate thing in order for their political games to go their way,” he said.

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The suspicions came to the fore after Mec Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, told President Peter Mutharika at Sanjika Palace on Tuesday that, of the K55 billion proposed budget, the government has only committed to provide 85 percent of it.

Ansah said, out of the K55 billion election budget, only K16 billion has, so far, been released by the government.

Peoples’ Party (PP) also weighed in on the issue.

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Party spokesperson, Noah Chimpeni, said, when Mutharika pledged that his administration would fully fund the elections, he created the impression that everything would run smoothly.

Chimpeni then asked Mec to clearly identify areas that are likely to suffer due to the problem.

He said if the deficit will affect crucial activities, the government would have no choice but to source the money.

“We were told in the National Assembly that government will fund the elections. We thought that what they meant was that government would fund the elections 100 percent without any deficit,” Chimpeni said.

However, United Democratic Front secretary general, Kandi Padambo, was optimistic that the government would source the funds.

He said Malawians should be proud that, for the first time, the country is funding its own elections.

Padambo’s sentiments were echoed by Malawi Electoral Support Network Chairperson, Steve Duwa.

But Ansah, in an interview yesterday, downplayed the fears, saying Mec expects additional funding from development partners.

“They should not be afraid. What we were talking about was about what the government is providing and, so far, we are being timely funded. Traditionally, development [partners] come in and we are yet to see what they will give us,” she said.

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