|Commissioner Rev Mezuwa Banda|
PRESENTED BY COMMISSIONER REV. M. MEZUWA BANDA DURING NECOF HELD ON NOVEMBER 29, 2013
· Your Lordship, Justice Maxon Mbendera, Sc, Chairman Malawi Electoral Commission
· Fellow Commissioners
· Chief Elections Officer and all members of Commission Secretariat
· Your Excellencies members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of all development partners present here
· Paramount Chiefs
· The Chairperson for Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD
· Honourable Secretaries General and Leaders of Political Parties
· Distinguished Members from the Civil Society Organisations
· Representatives of the Honourable Attorney General, the Commander of the Malawi Defence Forces and the Inspector General of Police
· Senior Government Officials
· Distinguished Members of the Press
· Ladies and Gentlemen
Once again, Ladies and Gentlemen I invite you to the presentation of the Commission’s stand as regards the issue of parallel voter tabulation.
I should start by mentioning and this should be heeded by all electoral stakeholders that the Commission welcomes the proposal by electoral stakeholders to come up with a parallel voter tabulation (PVT) centre.
PVTs have become one way of affirming credibility of results especially in fragile democracies. The Commission has confidence in its voter tabulation system and we would like to assure you as the Chair His Lordship Justice Mbendera Sc stated on 28 June at Crossroads Hotel that we shall deliver the best with utmost impartiality. But elections being elections, we could not stop anyone from having a parallel voter tabulation because that will be one of the most effective tools to confirm the credibility of the Commissions electoral results.
The Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology has become a powerful tool for citizen observer groups to monitor, in real time, developments on Election Day. Significantly, PVT enables citizen groups to independently analyze the integrity of voting and counting processes and verify the accuracy of the official election results declared by Electoral Commission.
Therefore, once again, the Commission welcomes the idea to have a parallel voter tabulation centre for the 2014 Tripartite Elections. If we have a parallel voter tabulation centre, we believe some of the accusations the Commission has received in the past will not be there because the parallel results will just attest to the credibility of our results.
However, there is need to have a common understanding of the parallel voter tabulation. The Commission expects whoever will be involved in the parallel voter tabulation undertaking, whether it be political parties or civil society organizations, to ensure they implement a universal PVT. That is they should count result of each and every registration centre. Not sampling a few polling stations.
The Commission’s intention is to have a comprehensive parallel voter tabulation whereby the organizers cover all the stations in the country. The 2014 elections will be highly contested as can be seen from the positioning of activities by aspirants. Each and every vote will count. The Commission will count to the last ballot and we want the planners of the PVT to follow the same. They should put in place all necessary procedures to ensure that they cover each and every registration centre in the country. If there is a difference in the results released by MEC and those of the parallel centre it will be easier to verify and rectify.
The Commission also expects some level of responsibility for those behind the PVT. They have a responsibility of ensuring the statistics they are collecting are correct. Where the PVT has issued a result but it has been found to be wrong, they will have a responsibility of correcting the information spread to the public as soon as possible.
The Commission will also want the organizations or institutions to be involved in running the PVT to have a proper communication strategy. They should lay out elaborate plan on how they will inform the public in the period running up to the polls and how they will also be communicating whatever they have tabulated.
The PVT owners will also have a responsibility of informing their followers that the results are unofficial. The official ones will be released after being determined by the Commission under Sections 90 to 99 of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act no. 31 of 1993 and in accordance with the provisions of Sections 74 to 83 of the Local Government Elections Act no. 24 of 1996 . Elections are an emotive activity and anything can spark out of mishandled information.
We also want an assurance from those who will be involved in setting up a PVT that they will not abandon the process but continue with it to the end. An abandoned PVT process can create controversy if results turnout different at the end of the election. In ideal case the Commission would have recommended that all stakeholders, be it political parties and CSOs, have PVT in order to widen the comparative base in case.
The Parallel Voter Tabulation Centre should also be located at a place where observers can also observe it not at undisclosed location. The organizations involved should position themselves to cooperate with MEC to sort out any difference that may arise in the course of tabulation.
Furthermore, those wishing to operate a PVT should remember to register with the MEC for purposes of regulation of the process.
Those planning to set up a PVT should set aside adequate resources to train the monitors and whoever will be involved and also provide adequate equipment for them to operate efficiently.
Our position is that anything that increases the credibility of our electoral process deserves support. We need election results that are respected by both the winners and the losers. Parallel vote tabulation is necessary because it will increase public confidence in the election results, people will feel confident that the results are accurate and that the government which will emerge from the elections does, indeed, rest upon their will.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sure the position of the Commission on the type of PVT it authorized has been clarified.
May God bless you and our nation.