By Duncan Mlanjira
All voters who registered during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the three by-elections held thereafter, just need to go and confirm if their names appear in the register for their respective centres while those who did not will be expected to bring national identity (ID) cards for registration.
This was announced by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Monday, March 23, 2020 at a press briefing at Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre when announcing the launch of the fresh elections process as determined by the February 3 judgement of the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court.
MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah SC said registration shall run from April 4 April to June in four phases of 14 days each with three days for transition.
The Commission is expecting to register those that have turned 18, or will attain voting age by 7June 2020 or never registered as voters during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the three by-elections held thereafter.
Ansah said those that have not registered for the national ID should do so now at the District Commissioner’s office and post offices that have been designated for National Registration and bring the slip they will be given as proof of civil registration for the registration.
This is in contrast to what Ansah said on March 12, 2020 when she told the National Elections Consultative (NECOF) meeting held in Blantyre that the enforced requirement for voters to use only the national ID as requirement for the May 21 2019 tripartite elections voter registration was illegal.
She quoted Section 23 (a) and (b) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and similarly Section 14 (a) and (b) of Local Government Elections Act that make it a requirement for a person wishing to be registered to “…present to a registration officer sufficient and cogent proof of his eligibility and may do so by producing a passport and a driver’s licence and even if expired”.
The law also says eligibility for registration also requires a tax certificate or marriage certificate; an employment identity card or employment discharge certificate or a birth certificate or similarly authentic document of identity.
It also requires a voter to bring a written, verbal or visual testimony of the chief, village headman or a registered voter of the area or the registration officers.
“For the purposes of the 21st May 2019 elections, the Commission insisted on the presentation of the national registration card issued under the National Registration Card as the primary proof of eligibility,” Ansah had said.
“This did not have any legal foundation and was always a potential source of legal challenge on the registration process.
“The Commission has resolved that without legal backing, it is constrained to insist in the national registration card only.”
At the fresh presidential election launch, Ansah said those that have changed residences, should report to the new centres to process transfers and for efficient processing, voters are encouraged to bring along their voter certificates.
“All people that lost their voter certificates can go and get duplicate certificates at the centre they registered last time during this time of voter registration.”
She encourage voters to present themselves for registration on time as it does not have provision for time extension.
“The Commission shall be running public announcements regarding the phases and all eligible voters are encouraged all to pay attention,” she said.