Malawi Yet to Identify Printer of Ballot Papers in Fresh Elections

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vote
24 March 2020

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has said the under-fire Commission is in the process of identifying a printer for ballot papers and accompanying forms for the fresh presidential election which she announced will be held on July 2 2020.

Malawi Electoral Commission, Chairperson, Jane Ansah Sc interacts with a Commissioner, Masten Banda during the press briefing at Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre-(c) Abel Ikiloni, Mana

The Constitution Court on February 3 nullified the presidential election resultsof the May 21 2019 and ordered MEC to conduct a fresh poll within 150 days.

MEC used ballot papers in the nullified elections which were printed at Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC in Dubai, United Arab Emirate.

Ansah said all stakeholders shall be informed once the procurement process for the ballot printers is concluded.

"Political parties and contesting candidates shall be allowed to send their representatives to witness the printing process at their own cost. The Commission shall put in place all strict measures to protect the integrity of the printing process and all logistics up to the polling station," said Ansah.

She said to guarantee transparency and credibility of the process, every political party and candidate shall have the right to monitor each phase of the electoral process.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) director of elections, Dr Elias Chakwera, said on Tuesday that the opposition will not stop procurement of election materials because they will participate in the elections.

He said what they want is the commissioners to resign.

A governance commentator Rafiq Hajat said the loss of confidence in the current commissioners will seriously undermine credibility of any election.

Hajat, who is also executive director of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), said it would, therefore, be important that there is a complete overhaul at MEC before any new election is conducted.

There has been a trend of printing ballot papers outside the continent at huge costs.

Critics argue that the large sums of money used in the printing of the ballot papers does not translate to free, fair and credible elections. There are always complains that elections are rigged and after four or five years, a repeat process takes place with more money spent on sustaining a democracy that doesn't reflect in the lives of the citizens.

Critics say the need to involve local printers in the process of printing ballot papers is not necessarily a panacea to solving electoral problems.

They argue that in a continent where the current mantra is "African problems, African solutions," the continuous printing of ballot papers outside the continent not only supports the economy of countries abroad, but it mocks Africans.

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