In a speech to rally the troops Jane Ansah said, the Malawi Electoral Commission is in the process of developing a five-year strategic plan that will cover the period 2018 to 2022. She encouraged those attending the meeting to formulate a plan. I, therefore, encourage you to be frank as you discuss the draft strategic plan.

“Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, running an organization without a strategic plan, is like flying a plane without a compass. This is to underscore the importance of a strategic plan to an organization” encouraged Ansah.

According to Ansah this is the fourth strategic plan for the Malawi Electoral Commission. The first strategic plan was formulated for the period 2001 to 2004 and the second covered the period 2005 to 2009. The third one which has just expired covered the period 2013 to 2017.

She continued to say, as an Electoral Management Body, mandated to conduct and manage elections in the country, MEC strives to deliver the best product to the nation in the form of credible, free, fair, transparent and cost effective elections. With your contributions to this strategic plan formulation process, our goal will be realized.

As part of the formulation process, the MEC hired two consultants; one local, Ms Stella Kalengamaliro and the other international, Dr Godwin, to conduct this exercise.

According to Ansah, the two consultants have done a commendable job by reviewing all available literature but also conducting consultative interviews with electoral stakeholders, majority of which are represented here. I should thank you all our stakeholders for taking time from your busy schedules to talk to our consultants. This far, their work has been easy because you made yourselves available to contribute your ideas.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we meet to review what the consultants have come up with so far. Since you contributed the ideas, I urge you to look at it as your document. The MEC exists because you stakeholders are there. Therefore, you have a stake in shaping the direction of the Commission in the next five years through this strategic plan. I, therefore, urge and encourage you to take an active role in this validation workshop.

For staff from the MEC secretariat, I wish to remind you that you are also internal stakeholders to the process. Some of you were engaged by the consultants and this is your time to vet if they really captured your views and ideas. For those of who were never consulted, this is also your opportunity to contribute to this important process.

Ladies and gentlemen, while this strategic plan spans five years, let us also not lose focus that in May 2019 we will hold tripartite elections. With so many lessons from the 2014 elections, this is a window for the Commission to demonstrate that it is a learning organization. We therefore need to embed in this strategic plan all ideas and plans that will contribute towards successful 2019 elections. We need to break the circus of recurring challenges to demonstrate that we are making strides in improving elections quality. While on this one you will agree with me that for years there have been challenges with the system used for voter registration. There were always cases of misspelled names, missing or transposed pictures or wrong birth dates. The Commission has adopted a biometric voter registration system to eliminate all these challenges. This is just one area of reforms that the MEC is implementing but there could be many.

This is the time to condense those ideas into this document that will now become our reference book for the next five years.
The Commission is committed to inclusive elections and ensuring broad participation of stakeholders. We endeavoured to draw representation from all various sectors of the entire spectrum of stakeholders. Due to time factor, it was not possible to meet with you all. However, we are glad that you are here and you will be able to contribute your views during this validation process. I, once again, urge you all to be free and contribute your ideas.

JANE ANSAH thanked the European Union who have provided financial support through the Basket Fund managed by the UNDP. Declaring the process could not have been possible without their support. As we always say that elections are a cycle, we give credit to the EU for continuing to support the MEC throughout the cycle directly and through the Basket Fund.

She finished by declaring the meeting opened.