Elijah Phompho, MEC Stringer
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah SC has assured the public that they are working carefully to ensure that no case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is spread due to the current voter registration exercise ahead of the fresh July 2 presidential elections.
Speaking on Monday when she inspected voter registration exercise currently in its first phase at Mitole Primary School in Chikwawa North Constituency, Ansah said she was optimistic that the preventive measures of the pandemic which the Commission is implementing shall go a long way in ensuring that no COVID is spread due to the registration exercise.
Her remarks comes amid fears that some of the preventive measures like social distancing may not be practical during voter registration in situations where numerous people turn out.
Ansah asked MEC registration staff on the ground to ensure that social distancing, coupled with regular hand washing is implemented at all cost.
During Ansah’s visit to the Lower Shire District of Chikwawa, which is among the first phase of the registration exercise — alongside Nsanje, Blantyre, Salima, Karonga and Chitipa — it was disclosed that the fear of the COVID-19 is making some people to shun away from registering, suspecting that MEC registration team might transfer the virus to them.
It also transpired that the absence of National Registration Bureau (NRB) staff at voter registration centers is preventing people without national identity cards from registering unlike ahead of the May 2019 Tripartite Elections where they were being registered first by the NRB staff right on the center before being enrolled in the voters register.
This has forced prospective voters Chikwawa to travel long distances from their respective registration centers to access ID registration services at the District Council.
On Friday, President Peter Mutharika announced some new measures of preventing the global Coronavirus pandemic from spreading further into the country, among them being the suspension of all public meetings and conferences.
However, MEC is still meeting the registration requirement and stricts the number of people into the registry room to two at a time and some three meters apart.