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Malawi 2014 Elections: Neither Fair nor Credible

Blantyre, Malawi – Blantyre, Malawi – A new civil society report on Malawi’s 2014 tripartite elections is calling for reforms in the country’s electoral processes and systems including enhancing the independence and technical capacity of the Malawi Election Commission (MEC).

The report titled: “Election Situation Room: Analysis of the 2014 Tripartite Elections in Malawi,” is a summary of findings of the Malawi Election Information Centre (MEIC) an initiative of a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) with a common interest in collaborating on activities related to the 2014 Malawi tripartite elections, led by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN).

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National Taskforce on Electoral Reforms Hold Seventh Meeting

The National Coordinator making a presentation

The National Task Force on Electoral Reforms held its seventh meeting on 5 May, 2015 in an effort to the process of Electoral Reforms in Malawi. The Task Force which was created in October 2014 is comprised of various government departments and ministries, civil society organizations and the Electoral Commission. To read more click the following link Click to read more

Press Statement
9th May, 2015
For Immediate Release

The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) has noted with concern the funding challenges that are being faced by the Malawi Electoral Commission that have put in jeopardy preparations for the Local Government By-elections slated for June 23, 2015.

MESN understands that MEC submitted a budget for the by-elections to government through the Ministry of Finance and started preparations for holding the by-elections upon assurance by the government that funding would be available to conduct the by-elections in the current financial year.

However, to date no funds have been advanced to the Malawi Electoral Commission, a development that has forced the Commission to postpone launch meetings which were supposed to take place in the wards on April, 29, 2015. The Commission has also failed to conduct recruitment of polling and training of staff ahead of the registration and voter verification exercise which was supposed to commence on Friday, May 8, 2015.Worse still the Commission has postponed the voter registration and verification exercises which were supposed to run from Friday May 8 to Tuesday May, 12, 2015 in all the five wards where the by elections are scheduled to take place on June 23, 2015.

MESN would like to strongly express its concern with this uncertainty because of the following:
 It undermines the importance of Local Government structures in the consolidation of democracy in the country.
 It undermines the important role of Councils in the delivery of development projects
 It undermines citizen participation and representation in that people are not fully involved in decision making processes at local level.

The uncertainty of the calendar has also potential effect of affecting preparations and the participation of other stakeholders which can greatly compromise the quality of the elections.

MESN is one of the institutions that advocated for the holding of Local Government Elections in 2014 and is appealing to all involved stakeholders to ensure that the preparations for the by-elections are given proper attention that will not portray them as an inferior kind of election. The Local Government Elections provides for by-elections whenever a seat has been declared vacant and that provision must be adhered.

MESN appreciates other challenges that the country has faced which have necessitated unplanned for expenditure. However, we are of the view that the economy has not been impaired to an extent that we cannot fund by-elections in the five wards. We also take an opportunity of the current situation to drum up support for electoral reforms for an independent electoral commission in all dimensions of operations and finance.

The current situation greatly compromises the independence of the Commission as the Ministry of Finance is determining when elections can be held in the country by not releasing funding for elections. This is tantamount to usurping the powers of the Commission. MESN thinks the independence of the Commission can be guarded if a protected funding scheme is set up. MEC should not be going to the Ministry of Finance to beg for money that has already been appropriated by Parliament.

Considering that some time has been lost, MESN is appealing to Malawi Electoral Commission to shift the date for the by-elections and revise the calendar for the by-elections so as to provide for ample time for the preparations.

Steven Duwa

Members of the Task Force on Electoral Reports held their Seventh meeting at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre on 5th May 2015.

The meeting discussed the progress on electoral reforms activities and reviewed the work plan.

The task force convened following the Expert Reference Group which had a meeting in Zomba from 14 to 15 April, 2015.