Opposition UTM has pointed at a number of irregularities associated with the ongoing voter registration exercise ahead of the July 2 2020 fresh presidential elections.
UTM’s National Executive Committee members led by the party’s Publicity Secretary Joseph Chidanti Malunga raised the concerns during a press briefing in Blantyre. “At Mudi, under-aged kids were coached to fill their NRB [National Registration Bureau] forms indicating that they were born between 2001 and May 2002, so that they are automatically eligible for enrolment in the Mec’s [Malawi Electoral Commission] voters register which was taking place at the same centre.
“The registration of minors by NRB and Mec is also taking place at Goliati in Thyolo district, and is aided by chiefs who are literally forcing NRB officials to register children less than 16 years of age, who are then registered by Mec to vote in the forthcoming election,” said Malunga.
UTM’s allegations follow similar revelations by their alliance partners Malawi Congress Party MCP] who also laid bare serious irregularities associated with the voter registration exercise. Addressing the press last week, MCP President Lazarus Chakwera alongside the party’s Director of ICT Daudi Suleman alleged that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was conniving with the NRB and Mec to compromise the voters’ register by, among others, registering minors as adults to enable them register as voters.
The party also alleged that the DPP was aiding foreigners to register as the country’s citizens for the same purpose. But while distancing themselves from MCP’s allegations, DPP has written Mec raising similar allegations against UTM and MCP.
DPP’s spokesperson Nicholas Dausi confirmed writing Mec saying they expect answers as soon as possible.
During the briefing yesterday, Chidanti-Malunga also bemoaned assault of the party’s monitors in some voter registration exercise ahead of the July 2 presidential elections. “We demand the immediate arrest of perpetrators who unleashed violence on our monitors in Thyolo, Phalombe and Mulanje yesterday. We demand an explanation from Malawi Police on its decision to withdraw from providing security at registration centres,”Malunga said.
Concurring with Malunga, the party’s Regional Governor for the South Steve Mikaya said if UTM supporters are not protected by the police, they will be forced to protect themselves from these attacks. But police national spokesperson James Kadadzera said the police were investigation the reports of assault they have received from Mulanje District. Kadadzera said the police are swiftly responding when they get reports of violence.
“The voter registration exercise is happening when we also need officers to enforce Covid-19 prevention measures. This is why we do not have officers stationed at every registration centre,” he said.