CIVIL LIBERTIES COMMITTEE (CILIC) REPORT ON MALAWI 2004 GENERAL ELECTIONS

Preamble

CILIC is one of the accredited NGO by the Electoral Commission to implemented Civic and Voter Education during the preparation of the 2004 General Elections.This included the monitoring and observation of elections. CILIC involvement in Malawi Elections started in 1994 and 1999 where it was mandated to carry Civic and Voter Education.

In monitoring the 2004 Elections CILIC deployed a total of 189 monitors in the following districts of operations:Rumphi, Mzuzu, Nkhatabay, Nkhotakota, Dowa, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Balaka, Mulanje, Nsanje, Blantyre and Machinga. Monitors wee places in every traditional Authority areas in these districts.To consolidate its efforts, 22 lawyers were trained and deployed as Domestic Observers.2 lawyers were therefore allocated to observe the elections in each districts above.Two officials were also assigned to observe the electoral process at COMESA tally center.

Summary Report of Findings

The following are being raised as areas of concern:

1.Conduct of Electoral Officials

At the tally center, the Chief Elections Officer has been sending back results that were submitted by Returning Officers.The question is now safe were the documents that were sent back to be signed by the returning officer alone in absence of monitors.Were the monitors still at the centers to witness the signing? Suppose documents were switched or changed, who were the monitors in this process?

2.MBC Coverage

The coverage of Electoral process by the public broadcaster hasnít been fair in its unofficial announcement of the electoral results in a situation where the commission has been failing to obtain the same results.

The use of this public media has been unfair throughout the electoral process.

3. Inauguration Ceremony

The arrangements to hold inauguration ceremony tomorrow is a situation where official results have not been announced to the public is seen as a ploy to blind the Malawians.One wonders why have heads of state been invited when the Malawi population has not been told the way forward on who is their next president.

4. Reconciliation of Results

Results of the polling could not tally in some centers. At Chisoti, then people who voted could not tally with the votes that were counted.There were more ballot papers compared to what were issued in the process.

In some centers like Namainje Primary School there were 4,000 ballot papers against 3,007 registered voters.

5. Delay in Announcement of Results

The electoral commission has been able to receive results from some distant places while it has lacked capacity to obtain results from nearby places for example Blantyre, raises more question and answers on the credibility of the official results.

6. Violence

There was violence in some parts of the country for example Nkhotakota, a vehicle belonging to an independent candidate was smashed by thugs ate the boma. In another incident a Republican party office has been looted in Blantyre where important documents have been destroyed.

7. Misleading of Voters

It was observed in Balaka and Kasunguthat some electoral officials were leading the voters especially old people on who to vote for.In Kusungu, a security personnel took upon himself to guide the electorate instead of the electoral personnel.

Some electoral officials allowed people whose names were not present in the voters roll to cast their votes for instance, in Nkhotakota, Kasitu center 413 people were allowed to vote without registration certificates and their names not being available in the voters records.Some of these people claimed to have been registered in the Southern Region.

8. Declaring the Winner

It has been noted with regret that the Mgwirizano Coalition candidate Gwanda Chakwamba has declared himself a winner.This is against the Electoral Law, which only empowers Electoral Commission as the only rightful body to announce the winner.

9. Freedom to Campaign

Independent parliamentary candidates and opposition party parliamentary candidates were not allowed to freely hold meetings and campaign.This was mote serious in places like Machinga.

10. Campaign with polling centers during day

UDF and NDA were allowed to campaign within a radius of 100m from polling centers like Kasitu Polling Centre in Nkhotakota.The Electoral Commission Officials could do nothing about it.

11. Security of the Polling material and polling staff

The security of the polling material and the polling staff was questionable.For instance, a security policeman at a catholic Institute in Blantyre was too drunk to keep such security and one of the polling boxes was missing.They were 12 stations instead of the original 13 stations.

12. Misplacement of symbols for parliamentary candidates

An independent parliamentary candidate in Mulanje had his symbol placed on a different candidate on ballot papers.

13. Use of Pencils in Voting

There were pencils placed in polling booths for voting instead of pens, a thing that raised a lot of questions.

14. Ballot papers with 6 presidential candidates instead of 5

All ballot papers had Dr Heatherweek Ntaba as presidential candidate when he had initially pulled out of the race, worse still the elections staff was not explaining to the voters about the change.

15. Less ballot papers

Some centers like Fele Primary School and Machinga primary school in Machinga had less ballot papers than the registered voters.

CILIC REPORT ON MALAWI 2004 ELECTIONS