By Duncan Mlanjira
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has issued a statement that inspection of the voters’ register exercise will run from December 10, 2018 to January 9, 2019 and that registered voters will also be able to verify their details by sending an SMS.
The MEC statement issued on Wednesday that the SMS service will be done in conjunction with Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), will see registered voters to verify their details by sending their voter number to 5VOTE (58683).
“This facility will be able to only verify text details of the registrant, that is, names and centre where registered. This is a free facility and available to TNM and Airtel subscribers only.
“Users will not be required to have airtime in their mobile phone. If there are errors in the registration information or the system responds that the details are not available, voters are encouraged to visit the centre where they registered and they will be assisted accordingly.”
MEC says the centres will be opening from 8.00am to 4.00pm including lunch hour and weekends.
“The centres will also run for full hours during the Christmas and New Year holidays during the period stated and the exercise will run in four phases of five days each,” says the MEC statement.
Phase One will be from December 10 to 14 and the Councils to be covered are Kasungu, Kasungu Municipality, Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Dowa, Salima, Mchinji and Dedza.
Phase Two is from December 18 to 22 and the Councils to be covered are Lilongwe, Lilongwe City, Ntcheu, Blantyre, Blantyre City, Mwanza and Neno, Nsanje and Chikhwawa.
Phase Three from December 26 to 30 covers Mangochi, Mangochi Town, Balaka, Machinga, Zomba, Zomba City, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Luchenza Municipality, Phalombe and Mulanje while the last phase is from January 5 to 9 covering Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi Nkhata Bay, Likoma, Mzuzu City and Mzimba.
“During the verification period, registered voters who lost their certificates should also go to the centres where they registered to get duplicate certificates which will enable them vote easily on May 21, 2019.
“The Commission will also process transfers for people who have moved away from the centre where they registered. These voters should go with their voter registration certificates to the centre where they wish to vote at and ask to be transferred there.
“There is no need to go back to the centre where they registered as voters in order to process a transfer. Without a voter registration certificate, a transfer will not be processed.
“The conditions for processing transfers are the same as for registration. People will only be allowed to transfer to a centre located in an area where they live, work, conduct business or they were born.
“The Commission is reminding all electoral stakeholders that it is an electoral offence to ferry voters to transfer to places where they are not eligible. Those found committing this offence will be prosecuted and if found guilty they may be given a fine or prison sentence.
“The Commission may also disqualify them from participating in electoral activities. All election staff and monitors are being urged to scrutinize all persons coming for transfers to ensure that they meet the mentioned criteria before processing transfers.
“The Commission in collaboration with the National Registration Bureau (NRB) will, alongside the voter registration exercise, distribute national IDs to all Malawians that had registered during the time of voter registration.
“Registrants are, therefore, encouraged to go to the centres where they registered and collect their national ID. The Commission is also appealing to all candidates and political party leaders that during their meetings they should encourage their members to go for voter verification,” says the statement signed by Sam Alufandika, Chief Elections Officer.