Ruling People’s Party (PP) has described Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) as a “confused lot” for abandoning the proposed Biometric Voter Registration System after touting it that it could be implemented in the 2014 tripartite elections.

The party’s spokesperson Hophmally Makande, in an interview yesterday, said he believed Mec was well aware of what they were doing, but its sudden change of heart has shown it was just confused.

“You see… they [Mec] are a confused lot. The way they presented their issues and the way they came up with the statement [on adopting Biometric Voter Registration System made us think] they knew what they were doing,” Makande said.

He also expressed reservations over Mec’s previous voters’ roll, which he said, was not up to date. He, however, said he was hopeful that the current team is going to do a good job.

Makande said since elections will be conducted in PP era, the party would help ensure that the 2014 elections are conducted in a prudent and professional way.

He, however, said the party will never intervene.

“But if there is any activity requiring our intervention, let them sound the bell and we will come to their rescue, not as owners of the process, but just supporting,” Makande said.

On his part, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Jolly Kalelo welcomed the postponement, saying the party feared the new system could be programmed and rig the elections.

“People could have been punching in a black cock there [voting for MCP] not knowing they were voting for an open lock [PP]. Additionally, if the system failed in Kenya, can it work here?” Kalelo wondered.

Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn), while welcoming the postponement of the new system, said Mec should now give an update on the status of the old voters’ roll.

“We are delighted that Mec had heeded our concerns and has since postponed its proposal.

We, therefore, expect the electoral commission to give an important update on the old voters roll which surely need an overhaul,” said Mesn spokesperson Steve Duwa.

He said Mesn believes that the arguments Mec put forward in promoting the Biometric Voter Registration System were not made to mean that the old system was entirely bad hence the need for the update.

Duwa said using the new system could have meant costing much and bringing in technological challenges which could have jeopardised the smooth conduction of the elections.

Mec on Friday announced that following the advice from various experts and stakeholders on the implementation of the Biometric Voter Registration System, it has shelved the plans of implementing the solution for the purposes of the 2014 Tripartite Elections.

“The Commission has taken into consideration the various concerns, risks and logistical challenges that are inherent in the implementation of the system and has resolved that the implementation of the Biometric Voter Registration System be used in the 2019 elections.

“Consequently, the Commission will, for the purposes of the 2014 Tripartite Elections, use the current paper-based solution of capturing voters in the field,” reads a statement signed by Chief Elections Officer Willy Kalonga.

This Biometric Voter Registration System flopped during Kenya elections this month as it collapsed due to technology challenges.

This forced the electoral body to revert to the manual counting of votes thereby taking almost a week to finish the counting and announce the winner.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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