Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) oriented judges of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal on biometric voter registration which has proved to be the most fast and accurate process for the 2019 tripartite elections.
Speaking on Friday during the orientation at Sunbird Ku Chawe in Zomba, MEC Chairperson Justice Dr. Jane Ansah said the commission had already briefed the media and Members of Parliament on the new voter registration system.
She explained that the orientations of different stakeholders were meant to introduce the new system to electoral players to appreciate its efficiency and effectiveness on voter identification.
Ansah said the commission oriented the Judges after realizing their role in handling electoral related petitions.
The Chairperson added that MEC and the National Registration Bureau (NRB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to use the national ID in the voter registration to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“We approached the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to amend provisions in the laws so that the National IDs should be the only document for the purpose of identifying eligible voters,” she added.
The MEC chairperson expressed hope that the amendment would be initiated soon, saying the new system was capable of extracting relevant voter’s information, adding that MEC and NRB would work in close collaboration to ensure that eligible voters were registered for the elections.
“Voter registration will be electronic while the voting process shall still be manual as has been the case in the previous elections,” Ansah pointed out.
Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda commended MEC for orienting members of the judiciary ‘ahead of times’ as they sometimes handle electoral complaints in court.
He observed that ‘elections should not be handled in courts’ arguing that electoral complaints have procedures in place to be followed to address electoral complaints.
Nyirenda asked MEC to ensure mass awareness on the new system to the masses to enable the electorates understand and appreciate the introduction of the biometric voter registration to avoid misunderstandings of the system.
“Ensure such demonstrations on the biometric voter registration are done in the process of voter civic education in our society ahead of the exercise,” he advised.
MEC received 1, 199 biometric registration kits from the United Nations Development Programme and will be expected to use such equipment in the voter registration thereby saving K1.8 billion as compared to doing the exercise manually, according to MEC.