The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has admitted to having failed to provide adequate brail tablets during the casting of votes for the May 20 tripartite polls.
MEC Commissioner Archbishop Emeritus Dr Bernard Malango was reacting to a concern by Chairperson for Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB) Mulanje Chapter Fredrick Kanong’oza that people with visual impairments voted with help of people they did not trust.
During the elections review meeting in Mulanje, electoral stakeholders in the district raised several concerns that occurred during the whole election process starting with registration, verification, campaign period and on the actual voting day.
Kanong’oza wondered if MEC really wants people with disabilities especially the blind to participate in the polls.
“There were no brail tablets for the blind during the voting process and as a result people with visual impairments were assisted with people they did not trust in casting their votes,” said Kanong’oza.
He said though they say voting is a secret exercise; it was not the same with people with visual impairments.
In his response, MEC Commissioner Archbishop Emeritus Dr Bernard Malango admitted that the electoral body did not provide enough brail tablets for the blind.
He said MEC ordered many brail tablets from South Africa but because of some logistical challenges, not all tablets were transported to all polling stations.
Malango said this issue is among several concerns which have to be looked into so that during the 2019 polls, people with visual impairments shall cast their votes alone without the help of any other
“This issue and other concerns that have been raised to be looked into so that during the 2019 polls, people with visual impairments shall cast their votes alone without the help of any other people,” said Malango.
The MEC Commissioner in his opening speech said MEC and the voters deserve a pat on the back for a significant reduction in null and void votes from 2.54% in 2009 general elections to 1.09% during the 2014 polls despite being the first tripartite polls to be held in Malawi.
“We have to pat ourselves at the back for the reduction in null and void votes from 2.54% in 2009 general elections to 1.09% during the 2014 polls despite being the first tripartite polls to be held in Malawi,” said Malango.