MEC Chair Ansah says it gives her great pleasure to address Malawians on this important day which we all have been waiting for. A day on which Malawians will get to exercise their right to vote and decide their future.
Polling started this morning at 6 am across the entire country and is expected to take place in 5,002 centres. Almost all centres have opened and voting is in progress. The centres have divided into streams to ensure centres do not have long queues. On this note, let me remind voters that the Commission has set up a mobile phone facility to assist voters to know their stream in advance. A voter going to the voting centre is encouraged to dial *2019#. The platform will then prompt the voter to enter his or voter registration number.
In the centres that I and my fellow Commisioners and MEC staff have personally visited, voting is progressing well. It is expected that voting will continue undisturbed until polling closes at 6 pm this evening except for polling centres that have been opened later than 6 am. These centres will remain open to compensate the late opening.
My fellow Malawians, as a standard practice, Ballot Paper issuers are under instructions to be signing on the reverse of the ballot papers before issuing it to a voter. All voters are encouraged to ensure that ballot papers being issued to them have been signed or initialled on the reverse. However, I should inform the nation that even if the ballot is not signed at the back, it does not become null and void, it remains a valid vote.
As polling progresses I wish to appeal to the nation to maintain peace and calm. The Commission is managing everything to ensure that all Malawians who registered as voters have cast their vote.
Ladies and gentlemen, this morning we had an issue at St Thomas in Lilongwe where the Vice-president Right Hon Saulos Chilima’s name was missing in the voter’s register. We have allowed the Vice-president to vote because the Commission was was certain that he registered at this centre. The Commission has investigated the issue and preliminary findings indicate that his name was transferred to Chiteko School in Chizumulu Island in Likoma district. The Commission has identified the temporary staff who did this and we are probing him to establish the motive. The Commission is advising all people that encounter such circumentstances to use *2019# to estabilish where there name is and ask for assistance from their respective presiding officers.
The Commission has received reports that some employers are refusing to give their employees an opportunity to go and vote. The Commission wishes to remind all employers that voting is a fundamental right and employers have a responsibility to uphold that. We strongly appeal to them to release their staff to go and vote now.
The Commission will be coming again to give an update at 3pm