One of Vice President Saulos Chilima’s assistants, Moses Kuchingale, was yesterday cornered at Kamwendo Polling Station in Mchinji for wearing a Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) tag while by-elections in the district’s West Constituency were underway.
Reporters first noticed the official’s tag at Mchinji Secondary School Polling Station where Mec officials confirmed that he had introduced himself as one of them.
When we approached the centre’s presiding officer, she said she was not aware that Kuchingale was not a Mec official as she had assumed he could not lie even though he did not have a ‘Mec official’ jacket.
Kuchingale left a few minutes after our arrival in a Toyota Prado TX registration number MG 974 AB.
Another Mec official from Blantyre who arrived at Mchinji Secondary School Polling Station almost the same time Kuchingale was leaving, admitted that it was irregular for someone who is not a Mec official to wear a tag with such an identification.
At Kamwendo Polling Station, angry Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Members of Parliament (MPs) who included Director of Elections Maxwell Thyolera, Richard Chimwendo Banda and Khumbize Kandondo Chiponda cornered Kuchingale and demanded an explanation regarding his ‘Mec official’ tag.
Kuchingale sped away in another Toyota Prado registration number BS 2090 and reportedly sought the intervention of the police.
Mchinji Police Officer-in-Charge, Maximus Bakali, who arrived later in the company of three uniformed officers, said he had received information that there was some confusion at the polling station.
Chimwendo Banda explained that he and his colleagues had already reasoned with Kuchingale that he should not come near any polling station let alone continue wearing a ‘Mec official’ tag.
“This is not the first incident to see him having that tag. I personally know him and I told him to stay away from the polling stations. Anyone wearing a Mec official tag can easily have access to anything at the polling station,” Chimwendo said.
Another Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operative was also allegedly found with a Mec reflector jacket in Mchinji. While in Bunda Ward in Kasungu, a DPP governor, Oswald Chirwa, allegedly stopped opposition supporters from reaching the polling station. Police intervened in both cases.
In a telephone interview later in the day, Bakali said the police had referred the matter to Mec which would come up with a decision.
Chilima has been leading a DPP campaign team in the Central Region where by-elections are taking place in Mchinji (parliamentary) while Lilongwe, Dedza and Kasungu have local government by-elections.. The other election for a ward councillor took place in Zomba. Chilima has been on a campaign trail on four occasions.
The stakes are high in the Mchinji Constituency which fell vacant after the death of an MCP legislator, Billy Kanjira Banda, on March 13 this year.
Mec is expected to release official results of the by-elections.
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