Chairperson of Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Jane Ansah has said the electoral body will set aside two days after the close of the registration exercise to screen new registrants to ascertain their real age and their eligibility to vote.
Ansah disclosed this during a press briefing in Blantyre in an effort to clear the air on reports that some under-aged children are registering into the voters’ roll under its watch ahead of July 2 fresh presidential election.
She, however, said it is wrong to allege that the commission is colluding with some electoral stakeholders to rig the election.
“We have been accused as a commission of colluding with whichever party to rig the election by way of registering minors. We had two options to tackle the alleged registration of minors: using the 2019 voters’ roll or screening all the new registrants. “The latter suffices and it will be done in full view of all electoral stakeholders in the registration centres. And we would like to appeal to political parties to urge their monitors to be vigilant during the exercise,” Ansah explained.
She then reiterated that when registering would-be voters the commission uses bio-data as provided for by the National Registration Bureau (NRB) which issues out national identity cards that are presented to Mec staff during voter registration.
On the reported violence and whether the commission will suspend the registration exercise currently in second phase as it did during the first phase on similar grounds, Ansah, who was flanked by all other commissioners but Reverend Killion Mgawi, said such may not be the case since the forms of violence are different.
She then challenged the police to institute investigations into the reported incidents and apprehend the culprits. Reacting to Ansah Malawi Congress Party Campaign Director, Moses Kunkuyu, challenged the commission to be clear on the move, saying the commission has not been honest in its undertakings.
He claimed his party has presented evidence of the various malpractices connected with the ongoing voters’ registration exercise on which Mec has been unable to act swiftly. “Well, she could be saying the same things that Dr Lazarus Chakwera talked about, so she has to be clear if the screening she is mentioning is the one our president mentioned when he asked for a proper audit of the voters’ roll. Otherwise it is worrisome that Ansah’s reign at Mec has been synonymous with lies,” Kunkuyu said.
Reports have been rife of vehicles ferrying minors to registration centres in the districts of Mulanje, Thyolo and Phalombe, an exercise which legal experts have said is criminal.