By Yamikani Yapuwa
Malawi Electoral Commission has disclosed that the recent floods that occurred in the Southern Region significantly affected its operations.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, MEC’s Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika said the commission has rescheduled ballot paper vetting exercise in some districts as candidates were unable to travel to their respective councils due to severe weather.
“Being an election period, the operations of the commission were also affected. The commission failed to conduct ballot paper vetting exercise in Mwanza, Chikwawa and Nsanje because candidates could not travel from their various places to council offices.
“The commission had to reschedule the dates for the holding of vetting exercises in these councils,” said Alfandika.
He also assured those who have lost their voter certificate that they would be able to cast their votes as long as they are registered voters.
“Considering that the floods have displaced many people and damaged household items, it is certain that some people have lost their voter certificates during the disaster.
“The commission would like to assure all victims of floods that they will be able to vote without a voter certificate as long as they registered as voters,” he added.
He further said the commission would also be working closely with all councils to establish whether the infrastructure designated as voting centres have been damaged by the floods.
“Where the infrastructure has been damaged, the commission will provide tents for shelter during voting. The commission is also fully aware of the challenges that are faced due to rainfall in some districts during the polling exercise.
“To that effect, the commission is planning for all scenarios regarding distribution of polling materials,” said Alfandika.
Meanwhile, the electoral commission has joined all stakeholders in calling on the public to stop wanton cutting down of trees but rather plant more to avert the impact of climate change.
Due to the effects of the floods, as of March 11, 2019, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) said it recorded 45 deaths and 577 injuries with two people reported missing.
DoDMA PRO Chipiliro Khamula added that 147,958 households (approximately 739,790 people) have been affected out of which 15,185 have been displaced.
“Most of the displaced families are living in camps and their relations’ houses. So a total of 187 camps have been established in the affected districts,” he said.
Meanwhile, DoDMA said assessments to establish the extent of damage in all the 14 affected districts are still underway and that the department continues to provide and coordinate search and rescue operations as well as the provision of relief assistance to the affected people.-MANA