· The Chief Elections Officer, Mr Willie Kalonga
· The UNDP and SADC ECF Representative, Mr Sean Dunne
· The Lead Facilitator, Ms Thandie Nkovole
· BRIDGE Facilitators for this course
· Distinguished participants
· Members of the Press
· Ladies and gentlemen
A very good morning to you all.
I hope you traveled well from your respective duty stations
I am glad to welcome you all to this training workshop which is taking place here at Lilongwe Hotel. This is a second workshop to be organised by the Malawi Electoral Commission for senior security officers from the Malawi Police Service as we prepare for the Tripartite Elections next year. The first one was held at Hotel Victoria in Blantyre from 20 to 22nd August this year.
The workshop we are starting today has been organised by the Commission with support from the SADC Electoral Commissions Forum and the UNDP. We are grateful to these partners who have supported us financially to hold this workshop. We are also grateful to the Inspector General of Malawi Police Service, Mr Lot Dzonzi, because he has always made available senior police officers to attend trainings like this one. This gesture signifies that the Police attaches significance to electoral issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the workshop today, is one of the many training initiatives that the Malawi Electoral Commission is undertaking as part of capacity building for electoral stakeholders. It is the wish of the Commission that as many stakeholders as possible are able to understand the various electoral processes thereby achieving a common goal of delivering credible 2014 Tripartite Elections.
This course could not have come at a better time as there is a momentum building up to the 2014 Tripartite Elections and we are currently conducting registration. For those coming from areas where we have already done registration, you will share us your experiences and for those from areas where registration is yet to be done, you have an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills to be shared from this workshop.
Ladies and gentlemen, the nation is anticipating that the elections next year will bring more challenges than we have had in the previous elections, because for the first time, we are going to have three ballot boxes. But as the Commission we look at the issue as manageable. While it may be true that the election in 2014 is complex, the Commission believes that through engagement of stakeholders such as yourselves, we will be able to deliver a free, fair and credible election.
Each of the stakeholders has a role to play in the elections. While we are eager and determined to deliver a free, fair and credible election, we believe the responsibility is not for us alone but all electoral stakeholders and, therefore, we can only emphasise on the need for all of us to move together and this course is one of those avenues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commission is interested to see to it that our stakeholders discharge their duties in a professional manner with high integrity, dedication and professionalism regardless which sector they belong to. The two and a half days training we are undergoing from today will help the Commission and yourselves as stakeholders understand the security needs and challenges that we face during the entire electoral process. The Commission cannot effectively deliver a free, fair and credible election if security is not part of its agenda and is not guaranteed. Election management is complemented by security management.
You will agree with me, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen that based on past experience elections have always been conflictual in nature and sometimes the conflict degenerates into violence and acts of sabotage. The availability of security strategies help to ease incidences of violence and provides confidence and trust to stakeholders that they can participate freely in an election.
The electoral cycle involves acquisition and movement of material, human and financial resources. As experts rightly put it, elections are the largest logistical activity that a country undertakes second to war. During elections, proper security strategies help to safeguard electoral materials, electoral staff, candidates, financial resources and technologies. Lack of security can lead to theft of materials, chaos and violence among other things. The Commission needs to know the security needs of different stakeholders well in advance so that it can fill up those gaps by planning ahead.
It is my hope, therefore, that the training today will offer space where the MEC and the security officers will share knowledge and skills on how to manage security issues during elections. I would urge all of you to customize this training and reflect on your own experiences during the previous elections.
In conclusion, allow me ladies and gentlemen to once again thank the Inspector General of Police for allowing you to participate in this training. It is the hope of the Commission that the Police will also come up with strategies to ensure that the knowledge shared here trickles down to all officers in the service who will be involved in elections security.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the SADC Electoral Commissions Forum and UNDP for the support rendered to MEC to conduct this training workshop. The SADC Electoral Commissions Forum and UNDP been good partners and have supported the MEC with several initiatives aimed at improving the 2014 Tripartite Election. I wish you fruitful deliberations. It is now my honour and privilege to declare this BRIDGE Course officially opened.
May God bless us all as we endeavour to achieve our objectives
Delivered on 7th October, 2013 in Lilongwe