By Duncan Mlanjira
The ballot papers and other polling materials for the November 5 by-elections for Matenje Ward in Kasungu Lilongwe South Constituency will arrive at Kamuzu International Airport on Friday, November 1 through an Emirates flight EK9747 at 3.05pm.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says in a statement that ballot papers and supporting documents for Matenje Ward in Kasungu will be taken straight to Kasungu while those for for the postponed Lilongwe South Constituency will be taken to the MEC head office in Blantyre for safe keeping.
“Representatives of candidates, political parties and CSOs interested to be present during the receipt of the materials are requested to get accreditation through the MEC secretariat,” said the stamens from MEC’s Media and Public Relations Director, Sangwani Mwafulirwa.
“Political parties and candidates are also encouraged to send their representatives to witness the arrival and storage of the ballot papers in the respective places.”
Due to growing insecurity and threats to its commissioners and staff, MEC has postponed the by-elections in Lilongwe South Constituency until further notice.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday, MEC says the commissioners and staff that were deployed to work in the constituency were being intimidated since the launch of the official campaign period on October 19
“The Malawi Electoral Commission met on Tuesday, 29 October, 2019 in Lilongwe to review the situation and environment and consider complaints received regarding the campaign environment in Lilongwe South Constituency.
“Since the launch of the official campaign period on October 19, 2019 the Commission has been monitoring the environment in Lilongwe South Constituency and also Matenje Ward in Kasungu.
“So far, the Commission has not received or witnessed any act of violence in Matenje Ward and all the voter mobilization activities and meetings have been running without interference.
“However, the Commission has received a complaint regarding the volatile situation in Lilongwe South. The Commission and staff have also been victims.
“On October 25, 2019 one of the MEC Commissioners was blocked and stoned while on a campaign monitoring exercise.
“Secretariat staff who were putting up posters were also stopped and verbally intimidated. The intimidation was intense that the Commission was forced to postpone all public voter mobilization meetings and activities that it had planned in the constituency.
“The Commission has tried to quell the situation through convening a Multiparty Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting on October 25, 2019 after complaints of intimidation and violence had been filed.
“During the meeting all leaders pledged to stick to the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidate or risk disqualification. However, the situation has not improved.
“On 27th October, 2019 the Commission received reports from various stakeholders in Lilongwe South Constituency that some people were assaulted and their houses and property burnt and looted and the matter is being handled by the Malawi Police Service.
“At its meeting, the Commission was concerned with the growing insecurity and threats to MEC Commissioners and staff deployed to work in the constituency and supporters of various parties and candidates.
“The Commission has, therefore, resolved to postpone the by-elections in Lilongwe South Constituency until further notice.
“This is to safeguard life and property of the people in the constituency and also MEC. Meanwhile, the Commission will engage with the leadership of contesting candidates and be monitoring the situation on the ground.
“Once the situation improves, the Commission will announce a new date for the polling.
“The Commission reiterates and emphasizes its commitment to hold the by-elections in Lilongwe South constituency so that the people there should have representation in Parliament.
“The by-elections in Matenje Ward will proceed as planned. Official campaign period will end on November 3 at 6am and polling with be on November 5,” said the statement signed by Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika.