A preliminary report released by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) has described the first phase of voters’ registration exercise as a success, though the institution admits that a number of hitches hampered the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec)’s efforts to achieve a 100 percent registration rate.
Speaking in Blantyre during the unveiling of the seven-page report on Thursday, Nice executive director, Ollen Mwalubunju, said the first phase was marked by a number of positives that included the prevalence of order, Mec’s accreditation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and considering dissenting views.
Mwalubunju said Mec had managed to register 94 percent of eligible voters as the notional number of voters in the Tripartite Elections, describing the development as a “very good achievement”.
“The first phase of the registration exercise was carried out in a proper manner. Despite some challenges met, the overall outcome of the registrants was very good. Mec has registered 595, 602 registrants against the baseline figure of 2010 registered voters of 515, 389 that was for planning purposes and Mec worked on an increase of 23 percent to get a projection of 634, 996 for the phase one registration,” Mwalubunju said.
He said, among other positives, a large number of eligible voters turned up to register for the Tripartite Election in five districts, adding that the voter registration exercise stayed on course and accommodated some Malawians who would have otherwise been disenfranchised if the centres had closed strictly on 4th August 2013, according to schedule.
However, the report recommends that Mec should consider changing operational times during the second phase, suggesting that the time should run from 07;30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.. It also says political parties should revisit their approach to issues of voter registration and take the process seriously.
The report also calls on development partners to fulfill their financial pledges, and advises CSOs to explore cost-effective ways of conducting civic and voter education, in the face of funding delays experienced during the first phase.
“Development partners should realize that registration is a very important and critical aspect of the whole electoral process hence the need to support more players to conduct civic and voter education and electoral monitoring, including registration, to ensure free, fair, credible 2014 Tripartite Elections,” reads the report in part.
On challenges faced during the first phase, the report says cloudy conditions, the sending back of people in some centres due to the slow pace of electoral clerks, malfunctioning equipment, and cases of double registration in some centres in Nsanje affected the process.
It also says poor quality photographs, lack of a rapid response system on the part of Mec and district councils, lack of punctuality among some Mec staff, lack of CSO monitors in some centres, and poorly motivated staff made it impossible to achieve a 100 percent registration rate.
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