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Stakeholders happy with Mec’s dry run

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By Jameson Chauluka & Feston Malekezo:

TRICKLING IN FROM CONSTITUENCIES—Sample results

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) second dry run of the results transmission system left stakeholders satisfied in Blantyre Monday.

However, the situation was different in Mzuzu City, where few party representatives witnessed the activity.

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Mec was testing the technologies its presiding officers will use in transferring results from all constituencies to the main tally centre at Comesa Hall in Blantyre in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

In a similar exercise two weeks ago, the system faced network glitches as some constituencies failed to transfer their results.

Lawrence Bisika, who is People’s Party’s director of elections, said he was happy that issues that arose in the first test had been resolved.

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“So far, so good; we expected that the exercise would take up to 72 hours for all the results to trickle in but within three to four hours, we are at over 80 percent of the results. That is encouraging,” he said.

Mphatso Banda, independent shadow Member of Parliament for Zomba Ntonya Constituency, said he was also satisfied with the exercise.

“I was here during the first exercise and I had a lot of questions but I am satisfied with the answers they have given me. Looking at the way the system is, I don’t think there are any questions of rigging in the elections,” he said.

Mec Electoral Services Committee Chairperson, Jean Mathanga, who presided over the exercise, said she was also satisfied with the exercise.

By the time Times left Comesa Hall, Mec had received results from 162 out of 193 constituencies for parliamentary and presidential elections, representing 84 percent.

Mec had also received results from 367 out of 462 wards, representing about 79 percent in the Local Government elections but traffic had died down.

Mathanga, however, defended the development, saying it was expected.

“If you look at the infrastructure we have and the country’s topography, you can’t expect to have all the results within 30 minutes,” she said.

However, the situation was different in Mzuzu City where political party representatives shunned the dry test run.

The event, which had less than 15 attendees, had African Union observers, journalists, officials from Mzuzu City Council, Mec and police officers

According to one of the Mec officials, Rebecca Chirwa, who is Mzuzu City Constituency Returning Officer, the parties were duly informed of the date for the test.

“It is not our problem. We cannot force them to come and attend the test. Last time, they came, only that network let us down. They should know that this was an important exercise. We just hope that they will follow the proceedings well on voting day,” she said.

A recent report by Association of Malawi (Ictam) noted some gaps in the results management system that Mec tested last week, and suggested improvements to the same.

Besides network glitches, Ictam assessed issues to do with congestion on the network and possibility of unlawful access to the network, to determine Mec’s readiness in handling electronic transmission of results.

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