PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's close ally, President Joyce Banda, is heading for defeat in Malawi's tripartite elections but has alleged serious vote-rigging despite controlling instruments of the state.
A crestfallen Banda, who spoke to journalists for the first time since the polls yesterday, said the elections were marred by "serious irregularities" including vote-rigging and computer-hacking. She demanded an immediate audit of the results.
Banda's claim came as deputy Local Government minister Godfrey Kamanya committed suicide by shooting himself at his home in the capital, Lilongwe, allegedly as it dawned on him that the elections were lost.
Banda came to power in 2012 following the death of President Bingu waMutharika. Mutharika's brother, Peter, is favourite to land the presidency in a field of 13 candidates.
Ironically Banda hired shadowy Israeli security company Nikuv International Projects to computerise the country's home affairs department and supply voter registration cards ahead of the elections, a move widely seen in Malawi as an attempt to rig the elections.
Zimbabwe Independent sources last year claimed Banda sent a Malawian team for attachment to the registrar-general's Offices which undertook Zimbabwe's chaotic voter registration exercise and managed the shambolic voters' roll ahead of the July 31 polls.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission subsequently sent staff and material to Malawi before elections amid protests by opposition parties.
Banda visited Mugabe in April last year ahead of her taking over as Sadc chairperson and was feted as royalty, touring several farms including Mugabe's Gushungu Dairy after which she pledged to implement some of Zimbabwe's policies back home.
Banda said irregularities included:
The arrest of presiding officers who were "caught in the act of rigging"; Some people voting up to three times; "Serious anomalies" where some candidates won more votes than the number of registered voters; Discarded and tampered-with ballots, and Communication devices of some monitors being blocked.
She accused an unnamed party of infiltrating and hacking the Malawi Electoral Commission's (MEC) vote-counting system.
The MEC should address these concerns by doing a manual audit of the entire process, she said.
"I appeal to all Malawians to continue with their commitment to peaceful co-existence and to remain calm until the Malawi Electoral Commission determines the outcome of the poll results," said Banda.
However, MEC chairman Maxon Mbendera denied their computer system had been hacked.
"Our electronic counting system has crashed, yes, and last night we migrated to our Plan B - manual counting of the results, so I wonder why the People's Party (of Banda) is complaining since we have not announced any results yet," Mbendera said.