New registrants turn up at polling stations

Voters and Mec staff at a polling station

By 6 o’clock in the morning, most centres in Lilongwe had opened with an impressive turn up of voters eagerly waiting to participate in the exercise.

Most of the centres received adequate electoral related materials and party monitors and local observers were part of the exercise.

A visit to centres in area 18, Senti and Area 23 revealed that most sites had been given functional generators, rechargeable lights and gas cylinders to be used in the counting of votes in the evening.

Security personnel were deployed and manned by officers from the Malawi Police Service and Malawi Defence Force (MDF).

Some of the voters at a polling centre in Lilongwe 

The mood was generally peaceful with no reported incidents of violence at the time of going to press as people went about voting freely.

According to Christina Musisi a Presiding officer at Chatuwa Primary school, the major challenge was the coming in of those who registered this year to vote.

In its 8th May ruling, the Supreme Court ordered that the 2019 voters roll should be the one to be used.

Justice Frank Kapanda said the right to an effective remedy appeals only to those whose rights such as voters, contestants and supporters were injured by the wrong decision.

Musisi (L) reasoning with a new registrant

“In this regard, it is the same voters roll as was used in the general election that should be used in the bye election for fresh elections

“From a rights point of view, it is those voters who voted and those contestants who contested in the immediate past elections whose rights were violated or injured by the wrong decisions of the Commission who must be given a second chance to vote.

“The law does not envisage registration of new voters in a bye election or fresh election because such voters were never wronged in the first place by the impugned decision of the Commission,” stated the Judge.

Judging from the turn-up of the new registrants at polling centres, it was apparent most people were not aware of the determination made on the matter or they were just chancing on their luck hoping they would be allowed to vote.

Decision time: A voter casting his vote

Most of the presiding officers interviewed stated that after making clarifications on the issue, the voters understood and sadly went back home as their names were not appearing in the voters roll.

Coronavirus preventive measures were enforced as hand-washing buckets were available in most of the centres with soap and voters were complying with the guidelines.

Most of the polling staff wore masks to prevent themselves from the pandemic.