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MEC, NRB downplay MCP’s accusations

Mackford Somanje: NRB director

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has downplayed queries that were raised by the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in regards to registration process.

MCP, through its head of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Daudi Suleiman, alleged that some people voted in 2019 election though they were not on the voters’ register of the electoral body.

The party alleged that some people believed to be supporters of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were allowed to register multiple times in an attempt to increase the votes for the DPP’s torchbearer President Peter Mutharika.

Responding, during a press briefing which was jointly held with the National Registration Bureau (NRB), MEC’s Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika said what the opposition parties alleged is impractical in as far the MEC’s voters register database is concerned.

“The system will not allow multiple registrations on the same kit. Someone may register multiple times in different centres and phases but these entries will be caught when all their information is deposited into the main database and exception reports will be printed. Only the first registration is valid,” said Alfandika.

On allegation that one National ID number was assigned to multiple voters in MEC database, Alfandika said in that circumstance one person will be allowed to vote.

“It must be noted that the Commission scans either the National ID or the NRB registration receipt sticker when registering voters.

“Even if two or more people were to share the same National ID number or same registration receipt number only the first registration will be recognized in the voter Register while any subsequent voter registrations with that number will be sent into the exceptions file,” he said.

He added:  “NRB had a lot of cases where the registration officers during ID mass registration and ID registration during voter registration made mistakes when registering the people e.g on gender, names e.t.c. A number of people have come back to request NRB to edit details after they had already registered for voting.

“This was mainly after the ID cards had been printed and distributed to them, way after voter registration exercise. In such instances the same person might have different details on their new National ID as compared to what is in the voters’ register.”

On the issue 33, 523 people with NRB receipts and MEC receipts without National IDS,  the electoral body’s CEO conceded to have that anomaly because initially MEC and NRB were operating offline.

“An ID number is issued only after all the validation checks have been carried out successfully. Therefore, those records that have failed validation checks for various reasons e.g duplicates will have no ID allocated. During the voter registration exercise in 2018, the NRB and MEC Biometric Registration Kits (BRKs) were operating in offline mode with receipts being issued without validating with the Central System. When the records in the BRKs were synced with the server and processed, and those that failed the validation checks were not issued with National IDs,” he said.

Taking his turn, Director of National Registration Bureau (NRB) Mackford Somanje had once again refuted rumours that minors might have been registered during the first and second phase of Malawi Electoral Commission MEC Voter and Verification exercise.

Somanje said the body has instituted independent investigations into allegations that minors might have registered during the voter registration by the MEC.

He, however, has acknowledged that in their system there are people whose dates of birth date back to the 1800s.

Somanje said those people had their details verified by the bureau and found that they were eligible to register and get a national identification card.

He has also indicated that it is not possible for its database to be cleaned or audited by any individual or institution as it is against the act that guides its operations.

Recently, MCP demanded auditing of voters rolls of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and data based on National Registration Bureau (NRB) alleging that it is being tampered with ahead of July 2 fresh presidential elections.

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