By Emmanuel Chirwa & Serah Makondetsa:
There was commotion at Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Headquarters in Blantyre as irate people who demanded to see what was inside the truck that is alleged to have carried already marked ballot papers assaulted and wounded former Homeland Security minister Nicholas Dausi.
The truck, which had been intercepted by Chikwawa Mkombezi Constituency Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’s candidate Abida Mia, was in transit from Nsanje to Blantyre.
Mia intercepted the truck after she was tipped off that it did not have police escort.
Mia, in company of Chikwawa Police officers, intercepted the truck and brought it to Mec Headquarters in Blantyre for inspection.
“I received a call from Karonga and the informant said there is a truck carrying electoral materials from Nsanje heading Blantyre. I telephoned Chikwawa Police and we intercepted the truck whose registration number is TPE 2611. The said vehicle did not have police escort,” she said.
While Chikwawa Police were on their way to Blantyre, they met some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials at Kamuzu Bridge.
The DPP officials joined the convoy to Blantyre.
When the convoy reached Mec offices, a large crowd of people stormed the premises’ entrance where various trucks were parked and a commotion erupted.
Dausi arrived at the scene and was roughed up by angry people who wounded his hand.
Dausi claimed his assailants are supporters of the MCP.
“I came here because Mec officials called me to witness the inspection of a truck which Abida Mia brought. While here, MCP supporters manhandled me and I had to flee for safety. I have been wounded and I am grateful the police and Malawi Defence Force officers were nearby; otherwise, it could have been fatal,” he said.
But Mia refuted Dausi’s claims saying she did not bring any party supporters and that she was not aware Dausi was wounded.
The truck was inspected in the presence of security officers, representatives of various political parties and Mec officials among others.
It transpired that the truck carried unused electoral materials but not marked ballot papers as it was alleged.
Meanwhile, various political parties’ representatives have urged Mec to provide security escort for its materials’ shipment, especially during this time where tension regarding election results is high.
The event comes just two days after a returning officer identified as Fred Thomas was arrested for allegedly tampering with already marked ballot papers.
A similar incident happened in Zomba where a truck was intercepted and detained at Zomba Police for hours because it did not have police escort in its trek to Blantyre to deliver electoral materials.
Mec is yet to release the results of the polls as it is still dealing with some complaints raised by various stakeholders.
Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah has called on Malawians to exercise patience as the commission is steadily progressing in the vote verification and tabulating of the results.
Ansah made the remarks yesterday in Blantyre at Comesa Hall during a 10th press briefing the commission has held since the polling day.
She said the commission has so far received 147 complaints and they want to review all of them before announcing the results.
“I wish to repeat what I said on Wednesday, parties should cross check with the party monitors on the results at various polling stations. Political parties have agreed for the commission to have time to review the results we are receiving and, as such, we will not be giving update of the results,” she said.
Ansah highlighted the fact that only Mec is mandated to announce the results arguing no party or individual should claim they have results of the elections.
“I want to remind you that announcing results is the commission’s mandate to announce the results. Do not worry, we have everything in control. We will announce when we have reviewed the complaints.
“We cannot announce the results without resolving the complaints. We have a number of incidents that have been reported at the commission such as the Nsanje incident, Mangochi- West Constituency incident and Lilongwe at Chimutu Primary. So, if we go ahead and announce the results, it will mean we are not counting every vote,” she said.
Ansah could not specify which party has lodged more complaints or which regions are the majority of complaints coming from.
“The complaints are coming from various parties. We cannot say we have a culprit. It is a general feeling, no particular party can be singled out. I cannot come here and say this particular party has complained this much. We will not make progress if we do that,” she said.
From the onset of the elections, there have been several irregularities including tampering with result sheets, suspected foul play of vote inflation and arrests of some Mec returning officers.
Making an announcement of the preliminary presidential results on Thursday, Ansah said President Peter Mutharika was leading with 1,436,877 votes representing 40.49 percent.
The results from 75.81 percent of 3,792 out of 5,002 polling stations also put Chakwera on second position with 1,257,853 votes representing 35.44 percent with UTM presidential candidate Saulos Chilima trailing third with 651,124 votes representing 18.35 percent.
About 6.8 million people registered to vote and Mec is yet to disclose the number of people that voted on Tuesday.
Tension is high as Malawians are eager to know the results of the polls.