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Don’t fear, don’t be misled by fake news, go out and vote: MEC Chairperson tells Malawians

Written by  Felix Mponda

MEC Chairpeson Justice Jane Ansah on Monday bodly told Malawian voters not to fear insecurity, not to be misled by fake news, but to go out and vote to exercise their democratic right. Ansah said this at a news conference in Blantyre, also attended by Duncan Mwapasa, Deputy Inspector General of Police (operations) , Brigadier General Chikunkha Soko of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and two senior MEC officials, Sam Alfandika and Harris Potani. MBC Online presents highlights of the conference:

Ansah: Rigging claims are false. Ansah: Rigging claims are false.

Ansah on ballot delivery of ballot papers: All materials by close of business today, Monday. we started with far away places, first with non-sensitive materials for eight days and lastly we had four days to deliver sensitive materials. All materials have been delivered.

Ansah on advance voting by security personnel: The rumours are unfounded. Its not true. According to law, there is no pre-adavance voting in Malawi. The law was amended. Every one will vote tomorrow and security personnel will vote where they have been assigned to. No one voted.

On the security of ballot papers: Our ballot papers and results have security features. There are other features you can see with the eye, but others are hidden, only MEC staff know the correct ones. The printing has gone through secure process. Should there be any doubt, let us know and we shall scrutinise and know what is fake or not.

There are no pre-marked ballots. The ballots were printed in Dubai and monitors from political parties witnessed the whole process and testified that the process was secure. All these rumours are just to divert your attention.

On security concerns: MEC is a management body empowered to manage elections. MEC does not work alone. By law, Police are responsible for providing internal security. We wanted 11,000 police officers, but they could only provide 5.550 to manage polling stations. We asked other security agents such as immigration, prisons and the Army to make up the gap. We discussed and the MDF provided 2,500 soldiers and the shortfall was provided by Immigration and Prisons. We have been working with the Command Centre which has been overseeing the deployment of security personnel.

Deputy Police IG Mwapasa on Security in the Lower Shire: We did our planning together and there should be no single fear about security. We did a survey during the campaign period on political violence, the Lower Shire was on top. We made a decision to send police officers not familiar with the area to enhance professionalism. We saw it necessary to do so so that new new officers would discharge their duties without interference. Deployment is not a single person's work. It is done in a group. The MPS does not exist for a single political party. It is for all political parties. Don’t fear, Malawians will be protected.

Brigadier General Soko: Indeed we filled gaps of security personnel shortages in Chitipa and Dowa. We are monitoring the situation and any shortage we are ready to fill that gap.

Ansah on claims of rigging: Yes, we received this morning on claims that there are plans of rigging with other people wearing police uniforms. One of the people was claimed to be from Zimbabwe who has come to train such people. These claims are baseless. There is a man married to a Malawian and he has not been in Malawi. The claims are baseless. The allegations are to make you anxious. There are no such claims for rigging through police. we have said if you see anything out of order. report to us. Give us the witnesses, furnish us with evidence. Apart from allegations, we have not have anything to look at.

On Airtel pulling out to provide cover: We were surprised that they pulled out. But MTL will cover 70 percent of the or two-thirds of the polling centres. But we have a follow-back. The whole voting process is paper-based, from the beginning to the end. It's all paper, counting is manual. The only time we use electronic is transmission. We have made plans that everything will not wait for any hiccup. There will be actual paper to the end before auditors do their work.

On closure of internet networks: There will be no closure of networks. Probaly congestion, but  networks will not be disturbed.

In coclusion, Ansah said: Don’t be misled by fake news. Let's maintain peace, law and order. This is a chance to manage the process satisfactorily. We must be fully satisfied MEC has done its work. Go out on Tuesday to elect leaders of choice. This is an opportunity to participate in the formimg of your government of choice. I can assure you we have done everything in our power to have a free and credible election and the democratic process to be fair.

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