The European Union (EU) observer mission says the National ID card will be of great benefit to Malawians in many aspects of their lives including elections.
Addressing members of the media in Lilongwe on Thursday, EU Follow-Up Mission (EFM) Leader, Birgitte Markussen said if completed successfully, the introduction of a national ID card would be a major step forward for the country.
She said the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is proposing to make use of the national ID card which should minimize errors and reduce costs.
“In undertaking voter registration, MEC is proposing for the use of the national ID to minimize errors. If achieved, this will be a major step forward for voter registration compared to previous ones though MEC needs to ensure that the system is realistic, viable and deliverable,” said Markussen.
He said the main challenges in the conduct of the polls in 2014 were related to voter registration, election day preparations, and result management among other issues which she said MEC has addressed as recommended.
“We anticipate seeing a free and fair election in 2019. EU has deployed an EFM to Malawi to assess the current electoral reform process and the extent to which previous EU election-related concerns and recommendations have been addressed and we are happy to report today that there is progress,” said Markussen.
Among other issues in her statement, the EFM leader said she was happy to report that MEC has taken on board the recommendations that were made and that it now has plans to ensure the delivery of election materials in advance of election day, and to ensure polling centres have all the materials required to open on time.
“It is critical that MEC, in collaboration with government, ensures adequate transportation is made available in a timely manner to ensure operational plans are fulfilled,” she said.
She urged MEC to have accessible and effective systems of electoral dispute resolution, a crucial factor in ensuring peaceful elections. She said while no legal reforms have been proposed in this area, it is important that the new legal department of MEC elaborates dispute resolution procedures.
The EFM will issue a final report at a later stage offering a detailed analysis of the existing arrangements for elections in Malawi and of the reform process as well as of the extent to which previous EU recommendations have been addressed.
On her part, MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah said the recommendations by the EFM have all been fully taken on board and that are all being implemented yet to be tabled in parliament.
“We have positive results from the by-elections where we managed to implement some of the recommendations made by the EFM and we are hopeful that come 2019, it will be a successful election,“ she said.
Ansah assured the EFM that the new legal department of MEC is geared to address the shortcomings observed in both 2009 and 2014 and that this will be critical to strengthen Malawi’s democratic process and maintain public confidence. (By Chimwemwe Njoloma, Mana)