Electoral stakeholders on Thursday pressed the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to explain if it is true that the law enforcement agency has recruited Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets to boost security during the polls.
Kaliza: No grain of truth
A cross section of stakeholders at the meeting
Recently, there have been rumours circulating on the social media purporting to say MPS has hired a legion of cadets to help man polling centres during the May 21, 2019, tripartite elections.
This prompted stakeholders to the 2019 Civil Society Networks Elections Coordination Planning Meeting in Lilongwe to press the police to explain if there was any grain of truth in the rumours.
The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) chairperson, Steven Duwa, stressed that the 'rumours are very serious and could potentially discourage others from casting their ballots'.
"We have been hearing rumours that DPP cadets have been hired to boost security during polls. And that is why this was one of the issues that came out during the meeting because, apparently, the stakeholders needed assurance from the police that there will be no political interference from any political party in the voting process as well as counting of the ballots," he said.
Duwa, who is also chairperson of the Council for Non Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma), said the civil society is particularly that such rumours are emerging at a time Malawians have a few days before going to polls.
However, the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police (SDCP) Stan Kaliza acknowledged the existence and circulation of the rumours, but pointed out that there is no grain of truth in them.
"We [the police] would like to assure Malawians that only government security agents from the police, Malawi Prison Service, Malawi Defence Force and the Immigration Department will be hired to provide security in all the polling centres across the country," Kaliza said.
One of the major objectives of the meeting was to agree on common strategies of civil society organisation (CSO) involvement and resolution of disputes at all levels of the electoral process from polling to announcement of the results.
Duwa said it is important that government security agents 'must' discharge their duties professionally during the whole electoral process, stressing that this is key to achieving peaceful, credible elections and acceptable results.
The stakeholders also asked the police to ban vehicles with funny registration numbers such as 'Ana a Dad', 'DPP 2019 Boma!' until elections are over.
Congoma and Mesn jointly organised the CSOs meeting with the aim of consolidating efforts by various stakeholders in promoting peace during and after the elections.