Malawi’s President Joyce Banda reassured the nation and the international community that the government was putting in place the necessary mechanisms to guarantee free and fair elections next year.

Delivering the State of the National Address at the New Parliament Building in Lilongwe on Friday, Banda said the measures being put in place will ensure transparent, smooth and violence-free general elections.

“We have already passed the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2012 to allow the holding of Tripartite Elections next year,” said President Banda.

“We have also appointed Commissioners for the Malawi Electoral Commission from all political parties, she added.

“Mr Speaker, Sir, through all these measures, we have shown our commitment to fundamentally transforming the way that the Government relates to its people, and how Government works for its people.

“I want to assure this august House that these governance success stories will be deepened in the coming year and my Government is committed to democratic governance, dialogue, rule of law and access to justice,” said President Banda.

However, published reports say Malawi Electoral Commission (EC) has delayed implementation of the electoral calendar because it has no money to start preparations for the 2014 tripartite elections as government did not consider a K1.8 billion (about $4.5m) advance allocation during the Mid-Term Budget Review.

According to The Nation, the commission initially submitted a K12.4 billion (about $3.1m) election budget which has since been revised upwards to K18.4 billion (about $46m).

The MEC, however, asked for the K1.8 billion advance for preparatory activities that could not wait for the 2013/14 National Budget that will only become effective on July 1 this year.

Quoting “well-placed sources” in the commission, the paper reported that the calendar of events in preparation for the three polls—Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections—has been affected by a lack of funding.

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