OPPOSITION parties and civil society groups in Malawi have raised dust over the decision by that country’s electoral commission to borrow some material from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), saying they feared it could result in vote rigging.
Staff Reporter/BNL Times
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 opposition political parties in Malawi said Zec should not have anything to do with their polls because of its history of presiding over disputed elections in Zimbabwe.
The parties fear Zec would help President Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) 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 queried.
“Why should Mec borrow gas lamps from Zimbabwe when the country still had generators used in the previous elections?”
Muluzi, who at 35 is the youngest presidential candidate in the May elections, alleged this could be a strategy to tamper with voter cards.
Civil society organisations shared his fears, saying Zec’s involvement in the elections would pose a threat to Malawi’s democracy because Zimbabwe had never held credible elections.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace national co-
ordinator Chris Chisoni said the organisation was on high 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.
Chisoni wondered why Mec opted to establish a working relationship with Zimbabwe out of the many other “credible” countries in the Sadc region.
“We are worried, Zimbabwe has never conducted credible elections and our electoral commission could have not established a working relationship with Zec because it has no good track record in electoral process,” he said.
Malawi Electoral Support Network executive director Steve Duwa also raised eyebrows over Zimbabwe’s role in the Malawi polls.
“People want to know what else the government is borrowing from Zimbabwe apart from those lamps and tents,” 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.