LILONGWE — Political parties and civil society groups in Malawi have raised dust over the decision by that country’s electoral commission’s to establish ties with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), saying they fear it could result in vote-rigging.
Malawi is preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections on May 20 and ZEC has agreed to provide the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) with gas lamps and tents on polling day.
But the Malawian political parties say ZEC should not have anything to do with the polls because of its history of disputed elections in Zimbabwe.
The parties fear ZEC would help President Joyce Banda’s People’s Party to rig the elections.
United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi questioned MEC’s decision to borrow gas lamps from Zimbabwe, yet generators were bought for the 2009 elections.
“What happened to those generators that were used in the 2009 general elections?” he asked.
“Why should MEC borrow gas lamps from Zimbabwe when the country is keeping generators that were used in the previous elections?”
Muluzi, who at 35 is the youngest presidential candidate in the May elections, alleged that this may be a strategy to tamper with voter cards.
Civil society organisations shared his fears saying ZEC’s involvement in the elections is a threat to Malawi’s democracy because Zimbabwe has never held credible elections.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace national co-ordinator Chris Chisoni said his organisation was on alert and would deploy observers throughout the country.
“Given the perception that Zimbabwe’s recent elections were not free and fair, MEC’s involvement with Zimbabwe raises eyebrows,” he said.
However, government spokesman Brown Mpinganjira trashed the fears of rigging, saying MEC was operating independently.
“The issue of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission assisting Malawi should not be a cause for concern because we have always had good relations with other countries in the region and this does not mean they interfere with the electoral process,” he said.
ZEC was accused of aiding Zanu PF to manipulate last year’s elections, a charge the commission denies.
— Staff Reporter/BNL Times