MEC solidifies its Malawi poll case: 'Tip Ex never affected results, no fake tally sheets' - Malawi Nyasa Times

MEC solidifies its Malawi poll case: ‘Tip Ex never affected results, no fake tally sheets’ – Malawi Nyasa Times

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This was despite the court refusing the MEC team to use the original results sheets to demonstrate the security features for demonstration purposes during the re-examination process.

Justice Dingiswayo Madise said it would be tantamount to ‘trial by ambush’ to allow MEC the original tally sheets which were supposed to be filed and pollster never did.

However, the court gave MEC a reprieve that they should bring to court the original tally sheets before submission to the lawyers on Friday.

Dismantling the case laid by the complainants that use of Tip-Ex amounted to an irregularity and that fake tally sheets were used in the presidential election cases in favour of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, Alfandika mocked the petitioners that elections cases are built on figures and facts and not mere speculations.

This was in direct response to allegations that his evidence was just mere speculation.

“The statements I made were based on facts and figures and not opinion. In election dispute, any dispute has to be proved by facts and figures and not mere allegations.

“In the figures we had as MEC and in absence of contrary figures we were convinced that the results were a true reflection of the vote and will of the people,” he said.

Alfandika also told the court that MEC never received any complaint from any monitor that they were denied a copy of the results and no challenge was raised against the results at the polling centres.

Asked by lawyer Tamando Chokotho why MEC wrote the BDO Jordan auditors to accept results that had been altered with Tip-Ex, Alfandika reasserted the stance of the MEC that it was used for correcting errors on the balancing part of the tally sheet and no valid votes were affected.

“Use of Tip-Ex did not invalidate the results, it did not mean that the results could not be submitted to the Commission. The Commission is the only authority that should make final authority on results.

“For all the results sheets that were Tip-Exed there was very close and rigorous vetting to ensure whether the Tip-Ex was for correction or bad intentions. It involved verifying with the log books,” he explained.

Alfandika also added that auditors who were placed at the constituency tally centre were contacted to verify the figures and they all confirmed that the alterations were made on the reconciliation part and no valid vote was affected.

The MEC chief elections Officer also took time to explain the use of the reserve tally sheets which had been branded as fake by the petitioners in a quest to move the court to invalidate the results.

“Reserve sheets were printed by same printer and cannot be termed as fake. Regarding sheets used from other centres by crossing the name of the centre, that is admissible. A presiding officer can request from another centre a result sheet.

“For the first time we had customized results sheets, that is why a crossing had to be made. In the past you could not detect it.

“This principle applies to all other materials including ballot papers. All these does not mean fake, it’s an initiative to ensure continuity of voting process,” he explained.

The MEC CEO also explained that the bar codes on the original results sheets (not reserve) were used as identifiers and not as a security piece.

“On reserve sheets, only one bar code was used for all of them. Reserve sheets were not apportioned to one centre because it could not be known in advance which centre would use them. We put them at constituency tally centre,” he said

Alfandika also cleared the mist regarding the delay of gazetting of the elections results in August that it was due to the printer (Government Press) who could not manage to do so in time despite being given the job in good time.

He added that despite the delay there was no complaint received by the Commission from the petitioners who had raised the issue several time in court.

The smiling CEO, without sweating also told the court that unused, cancelled, soiled ballots and null and void votes are not used to determine results of an election debunking the theory that was advanced by MCP witnesses, Anthony Bendulo and Richard Chapweteka that these votes were played around with in favour of Peter Mutharika.

Regarding the transmission of results from the Constituency Tally Centre to the Main Tally Centre, Alfandika said the decision was made in consultation with stakeholders including the UTM and Malawi Congress Party.

“The Commission was always listening to the concerns of the political parties and one of them was that at the district level there was a bottleneck.

“A proposal was made to process election results at constituency level under the delegated authority of District Commissioner to the national tally centre to speed up the process of results transmission. The challenges included congestion at district, difficult to follow the tallying and very difficult for monitors t follow the results to the district level,” he said

The MEC boss explained that District Commissioners handled results especially for the presidential tally and submit the same to the main tally centre.

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