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Voter registration ‘kit’ stolen

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By Mandy Pondani:

James Kadadzera

Barely a week after it was reported that a biometric registration kit (BRK) that had data for the 2019 tripartite elections was found in Mozambique, some gadgets are also said to have gone missing in Mzuzu.

The gadgets are a laptop and power bank.

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National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, confirmed the development saying Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) reported to police that the gadgets went missing from the commission’s warehouse at Katoto between October 23 and 24 2018.

He said they have since instituted investigations into the matter.

“Yes we have received a report from Mec that some items are missing from their warehouse in Mzuzu. We are working hand-in-hand with them to get to the bottom of the matter and we are optimistic that we will be successful,” Kadadzera, who refused to shed more light, said.

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Cases of missing voter registration equipment have raised eyebrows in the public domain, with voters and political parties’ officials suspecting schemes to rig the elections.

When asked whether Malawians should trust the commission to deliver credible election next year, Mec Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alufandika, went on the defensive, saying no voter data had been tampered with.

He said the laptop that had been stolen in Mzuzu and the power bank cannot be used in isolation to conduct any election- related exercise anywhere.

“It is just an ordinary laptop like yours and mine. For someone to log in to the system, they need to have the whole kit assembled and also a national ID. So you are assured that all the information that Mec is collecting is intact; no one has tampered with it,” Alufandika said.

Reacting to the news, director of publicity for the former ruling People’s Party Ackson Kalaile-Banda yesterday accused Mec of treating the electoral process without seriousness.

“There is no way we can have such incidents two times in a row [after another full kit was found on a train in Mozambique], and then think we have a commission which is delivering.Let them pave the way for people who will treat elections with seriousness,” Banda said.

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party regional governor for the Northern Region, Kenneth Sanga, said the two incidents have the potential of causing fear and panic among electoral stakeholders.

“This is cause for concern and can raise unnecessary fears. Need I say that Mec has to bring back the trust that the public has always had in it,” Sanga said.

Meanwhile, Malawi Congress Party publicity secretary, Maurice Munthali, has reiterated the party’s stand by asking for identification and immediate dismissal of all Mec personnel suspected to have had a hand in the loss of the items.

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