Malawi: Airtel Malawi, TNM Dismiss Mutharika Rigging Tantrums

26 April 2019

Airtel Malawi and TNM plc, the country's integrated information and communications technology and mobile phone network operators, have dismissed President Peter Mutharika's rigging tantrums, saying their networks cannot be used for such an exercise in the May 21 2019 watershed polls.

Kamoto: The claims are false

President Mutharika at the weekend issued a stern warning against alleged but undisclosed plotters of vote rigging.

His outburts were seen to be an insinuation to State vice-president Saulos Chilima.

Chilima, who is UTM Party presidential candidate, has stressed that no-one is capable of rigging an election. He said rigging claims are meant to disenfranchise voters from turning to cast their ballots, hence urged Malawians to ignore the claims and instead exercise their right to vote.

In a statement seen by Nyasa Times, managing director of Airtel, Charles Kamoto, says the allegations that Airtel would help rig the highly contentious May 21 tripartite election are uttery false.

"Airtel Malawi wants to reassure customers that the integrity of the network is paramount to our commitment towards providing the best possible service.

"Our network, which is regularly updated, is safe, secure and robust," reads the statement.

Kamoto says furthermore, Airtel Malawi is continuously guided by its license and regulations in running its operations in line with the law and international telecommunications standards.

In a separate statement, TNM says it is not involved in any plans to rig the forthcoming elections in Malawi.

The statement says TNM has not seen any signs of such things happening.

"As a regulated network in Malawi, TNMPLC is not involved in any law breaking plans in anyway," says the statement.

The statement assures TNM subscribers that the network is safe to use and compliant with the security and safety standards of its users.

Mutharika alleged at a political rally in Ntchisi that a certain politician is using experts from India, Russia and Nigeria to rig the election using Airtel and TNM networks.

Malawi has since put the three countries as security risk.

In a memo dated April 23, 2019 and addressed to all heads of sections in the country's border posts, the Immigration department advises officers to exercise caution in processing visa applications from risky countries and cites Nigeria, India and Russia.

Head of Chancery at the Nigerian embassy Ibrahim Ghani and Indian High Commission to Malawi Anil Suli expressed shock that Malawi has categorised their countries as risky.

The two countries said the government of Malawi has not communicated to them over the issue.

Ghani said: "At no time have we been told that Nigeria is classified as Category 1 of high risk countries. But we cannot make our official position now before the ministry of Foreign Affairs communicates to us formally."

He also said Nigeria has not received any complaint from the government of Malawi on any suspicious activities by its citizens.

Besides the three countries, a list from the Immigration department shows that category 1 has 50 other countries such as Angola, DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal.

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