Sunday, February 2, 2014
REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN, MALAWI ELECTORAL COMMISSION JUSTICE MAXON MBENDERA SC, TO THE NECOF MEETING, 31ST JANUARY, 2014
Chief Elections Officer and all members of staff of the
The Chair of CMD, Mr Levison Ganiza
Secretaries General of Political Parties present
Directors of Elections of Political Parties
Representatives of Development Partners
Distinguished Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning and Happy New Year to you all.
I am pleased to welcome you all to the fourth meeting of the National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF) in this brand new year, 2014. Welcome to NECOF, this continues to be a meeting place for the Commission and all electoral stakeholders as we prepare for the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the fourth meeting that we are having. We are now moving towards having these consultative meetings frequently. The last one was on November 29, 2013. Since then several activities have taken place.
The Commission wants to give a report about them. The Commission will also provide status report on other activities which are ongoing and planned activities for immediate implementation.
1. REGISTRATION OF VOTERS
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you would recall that registration of voters started on July 22 and ended on December 18.
This was, as you would recall, one phase earlier than initially planned.
The Commission had planned to have ten phases of voter registration which were ending on 4 January 2014. However, this was revised to nine after considering fears that registration might be hampered in some areas because people would be busy in their
fields and some areas would be inaccessible due to effects of rains.
At the end of the exercise, a total 7,537,548 voters were registered nationwide. This represents 94.10 percent of the projected total for the exercise which was put at 8,009,734 registrants.
Of the total registered voters, 3,481,365 are men representing 46.19 percent while 4,056,183 are women representing 53.81 percent.
Before I leave the issue of voter registration, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to clarify to the public and stakeholders that during computerisation, there might be some changes to the figures.
This is because the figures were based on raw statistics on daily registration records which could have introduced in human error.
Whatever will come out of the computerisation will also be shared with you all. Let me make it clear here that the output of the computerisation should never be linked to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or individual.
The Commission wishes to thank:
all persons who presented themselves for voter registration,
civil society organizations that mobilized people to register,
traditional leaders for their active participation in motivating
people to register,
political parties that mobilized people to register,
development partners for procuring voter registration equipment sets that enabled the Commission to increase coverage from phase four
the Malawi Police Service for offering security,
the media for reporting about the exercise,
all registration staff (District Elections Supervisory Teams, Quality
Control Managers, Camera Operators, Supervisors and Clerks)
and all other stakeholders too numerous to mention.
2. NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to inform you that,
as planned, the Commission started issuing nomination papers on January 16, 2014. Independent candidates for Parliamentary and Local Government Elections are collecting their nomination papers from their local councils while independent presidential candidates are collecting the papers from the Commission’s head office in
We arranged with Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) to facilitate distribution of nomination papers to political parties. For the presidential race, as we meet today, 16 political parties have collected nomination papers while two forms have been collected from the Commission by aspiring independent candidates bringing the total to 18. A total of 22 political parties have collected nomination papers for Parliamentary Elections while 21 political parties have collected papers for Local Government Elections.
Presentation of nomination papers will be from 10 to 14 February, 2014. For all Parliamentary and Local Government Elections aspirants whether political party sponsored or contesting as independents will submit nomination papers to their respective councils.
Therefore, all candidates are encouraged to get in touch with the District
Commissioners or Chief Executive Officers to indicate the date and time they will be comfortable to present their nomination papers within the 5-day period set by the Commission.
All councils will come up with timetables for candidates to avoid clashes.
Presidential candidates will submit their nomination papers to the Commission sitting at the COMESA Hall. A timetable will be drawn for all candidates who have collected nomination papers and the Chief Elections Officer will be in touch with the Secretaries General on the details.
The Commission is also encouraging candidates to present their filled nomination papers for pre-inspection before the day of submission.
Candidates can contact the District Commissioners, the Chief Executives, District Election Clerks or Constituency Returning Officers just to check if the nomination papers have been filled correctly. This will save on time and avoid inconveniences on the day of presentation.
Candidates should also ensure that their nominators are registered voters from the ward or constituency they intend to contest and that they have not nominated anyone for the same election.
At this point, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to express my profound gratitude to our development partners.
Through the UNDP basket fund, the Development Partners have procured for us 105 laptop computers, printers and other associated accessories. This equipment will be used to capture details of candidates in the councils during presentation of nomination papers.
Would I ask the meeting to give a round of applause to our development partners for this assistance?
3. CODE OF CONDUCT FOR TRADITIONAL LEADERS
Colleagues, as was discussed at the last meeting, the Commission
have started a process, developing a code of conduct for traditional leaders. This is considering the crucial role they play during an electoral period like mobilising people to register, to attend campaign meetings and also allocation of venue.
The law is very clear that persons or political parties seeking to address a meeting should notify the District Commissioner with a copy to the Police. It is also clear that all public servants are supposed to give equal treatment to all contestants in an election.
However, we have received reports in the past where some chiefs have been creating no-go-zones for particular political parties or candidates. This contributes to un-levelling the play field more especially when it is the most-sought after venue. This is uncalled for and the Commission hopes that coming up with the code of
conduct will help deal with this.
Ladies and Gentlemen, just like all other codes of conduct developed, the Commission will consult the traditional leaders on the code of conduct for their input. It is planned that the code of conduct should be finalized before the campaign period kicks off.
The code of conduct will also be presented to this meeting before implementation.
4. INSPECTION OF THE PRELIMINARY VOTERS ROLL
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commission has planned
that the inspection of the voters roll should take place from 24 – 28th March 2014.
This is the period all registered voters will go and verify the correctness of their details in the voter’s roll.
The Commission will re-open all registration centres across the nation. All changes will be processed there and then.
Apart from verifying details, this is the period that those who lost their certificates will be given duplicate certificates. Those who have lost their certificates will have to go to the centre where they registered and report to the supervisor about the missing voter certificate.
The supervisor will then check the details of the person and if they exist in the register, the supervisor will issue a duplicate voter certificate which will be used on the voting day. If the name is not found in the register, the supervisor shall check in the permanent record book which was used during registration.
If the name is not found, it shall be concluded that the person did not register.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, there are also some people who might have changed places of permanent residence to the extent that they will be unable to go and vote to the centre they registered. This is the time they will process transfers.
When centres open these registrants should just go to the centre where they wish to
cast their vote and ask the supervisor to transfer them to that centre.
Those processing transfers will be required to produce their voter certificates to facilitate the transfer. Without a certificate it will not be possible to arrange the transfer. We risk transferring wrong persons. I repeat, without voter certificate, the transfer will not be processed.
During the verification period the Commission will also request the public to report deaths of beloved ones so that they can be deleted from the register. Relatives can bring the voter certificate of the deceased and a death certificate or letter from a village head or church leader testifying about the death.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, on the logistics side, the
Commission has planned to place one Quality Control Manager (QCM) at one central centre in every ward.
If a picture of a registrant is missing they will be referred to the central centre where the QCM will be stationed.
As you might all be aware, during the registration of voters, there were cases of theft of registration materials reported.
The Commission is informing the meeting that only those that presented themselves in the registration centres will appear on the voters’ roll.
The Commission will be on the lookout. Anyone who comes for voter verification with voter certificates not in our database will be asked to explain where they got them by the Police.
Ladies and Gentlemen, voter verification is a very crucial exercise as
we prepare for elections. The Commission needs the support of all stakeholders for this to be a success.
Let me call upon political parties and all interested stakeholders to monitor and observe the process.
For political parties, I would like to repeat and urge you to appoint monitors who are literate and numerate who would be able to follow the process objectively.
As we conduct rallies, let us remind and encourage our supporters and members to participate in this exercise. This is the opportunity for the public to know that they will take part in the elections through voting for candidates of their choice.
5. BORROWING OF GAS LAMPS FROM ZIMBABWE
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commission has planned to borrow gas lamps and tents from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
The gas lamps were observed during the past elections in Zimbabwe where they were effective and provided excellent lighting to the process in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has agreed to our request. They will lend us
10,500 gas lamps and 350 tents for polling. The Commission will use a mixture of the lamps and generators we already have. Easy to reach places where backup can easily be provided will use the generators.
In remote and hard-to-reach places we will use the gas lamps only.
6. STAFF TRAINING AND REPORTING BACK TO POLITICAL PARTIES
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commission wishes to encourage political parties to take interest in some training which it conducts for poll workers. On the eve of starting voter verification, there will be training for all staff who will be conducting the verification exercise.
The training will take place in all the registration centres. The Commission is encouraging all political parties to send their people especially those placed as monitors to attend these training sessions.
By attending these meetings party monitors will learn more about the verification exercise. This will help them monitor the poll workers to ensure that they are doing everything per training they received. This will enable them intervene or report objectively from a process and knowledge point.
The Commission has also had some complaints that in some cases members who attend NECOF do not escalate upwards or cascade down to the rank and file of respective political parties.
We must insist that you find an effective means of sharing with your party presidents and everyone about issues discussed and agreed upon during NECOF. It would not help matters if you attend this meeting and keep it to yourself.
The issues discussed here are for your organisation and the entire nation.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a successful 2014
as the country clocks 50 years of independence and20 years of return to multi-party democracy.
We all have a responsibility to ensure that the gains of independence and multi-partyism are guarded and the fruits enjoyed by generations to come.
We need to preach peace and tolerance. Violence will not take us anywhere but bring destruction and misery.
With these remarks, I have the honour to declare this meeting open.
May God Almighty
Bless you all
Thank you very much