Blantyre — In bid to preserve the integrity of the electoral process, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has suspended 13 presiding officers for Phalombe Central Constituency for their involvement in receiving gifts from a candidate.
According to MEC's chair, Maxon Mbendera, the suspension comes after the Commission conducted their investigation in which it proved that the presiding officers in question received gifts in the form of bicycles, mosquito nets, boxes of chalk and K5, 000 from one of the candidates in the constituency.
"We were tipped that one of the candidates contesting for a position in Phalombe Central Constituency offered gifts to the recruited presiding officers in the area.
"The Commission took up the issue and did a thorough investigation where it has come out that the officers indeed received the gifts," explained Mbendera during a press briefing at Mount Soche in Blantyre.
Mbendera said the presiding officers, who are head teachers, have consequently been replaced with their deputies and they will not be allowed to conduct any electoral duty in connection to elections activities on behalf of the Commission while the candidate involved has been referred to the Police for their action.
"We have referred the candidate to police to do their job after which we will act according to whether the candidate is convicted or not," said Mbendera who was reluctant to mention the name of the candidate.
On the same note, Mbendera disclosed that the electoral body has set up a Complaints Handling Unit (CHU) to efficiently handle all electoral complaints.
"Any person, who during the electoral process, witnesses an apparent violation of the electoral laws or codes of conduct, has the right to submit a complaint either at the polling station, by completing a complaint form and lodging it with the Presiding Officer, or through the Complaints Handling Unit.
"A complaint form can be downloaded from the MEC official website at: www.mec.org.mw .
"The complainants should provide their contact details, location where the event occurred, time and date, names of other people who might have witnessed the event and evidence," said Mbendera emphasizing that complaints may be hand-delivered to the MEC head office in Blantyre or by email: