Tension and fear gripped Kasungu residents on Thursday morning when a
group of seven people were reportedly spotted at various centers
illegally collecting voters’ information, and demanding to know who
they plan to vote for.
The suspicious team was traveling on a silver grey minibus
registration number BR 6426. Eye witnesses also said two more vehicles
with ‘IT’ registration numbers were accompanying the team.
The development comes just days after the Malawi Electoral Commission
suspended a voters’ verification exercise which was marred by
irregularities and inconsistencies ahead of the May 20 Tripartite
Kasungu is one of the districts considered to be a stronghold of the
rejuvenated opposition Malawi Congress Party.
Kasungu Police confirmed that its officers missed the group by a
whisker when deployed around 9 AM to intercept them at their
reportedly first stop at Linga near Kamuzu Banda’s Ngulu ya Nawambe
residence following a tip from the public.
The team was then spotted at Chatoloma, Nkhamenya and Jenda towards
Mzimba where they were allegedly asking prospective voters who they
would vote for come May 20, apart from recording some voters’ ID
However, the police managed to intercept the suspects at Jenda Road
Block where, when pressed, they revealed were State House operatives.
In an interview, Kasungu Police Officer In Charge John Nyondo
“One of the suspects, a Mr Kuntiya, also said to be the
team leader, even gave the contact number of the guy from State House
in Lilongwe said to have sanctioned the ‘research’ in the district.
“They said they were researchers but when we checked with the District
Executive Committee records, Kasungu never expected anyone researching
on the elections, at least not around this period. We however, we are
still investigating and we should have much more detailed information
by the end of the day. We should be coming back to you.”
Nyondo said he spoke with Kuntiya on the phone where he identified
himself as the ‘research’s coordinator’.
Kasungu District Election Clerk Sydney Banda also confirmed to have
heard of the reports:
“Actually, it’s our office that redirected the
public tip off to the police. We also facilitated some transportation
of the [police] officers in tracking the suspects. We are working
hand-in hand with the police. Currently, we don’t have adequate
information as regards to who they are and what they are in for.
“But suffice to say that they are indeed asking voters on who they
intend to vote for, or indeed recording serials numbers from voter ID
certificates; then we can confidently say they are violating electoral
laws as stipulated in the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa could not immediately be reached
for comment as he was reportedly locked up in a meeting.
But in a twist of events, Face of Malawi reporter got a phone call from about 20
minutes since interviewing the nameless State House man from the team
‘on the ground that’.
The ‘researchers’ denied to have anything to do with State House nor
having a Mr Kundiya in their company; adding they are an independent
entity just trying to do an own opinion poll.