Diplomatic tiff brews as Malawi fails to pay for “Nikuv” election material loaned from Zimbabwe

by Staff Reporter

HARARE-A diplomatic tiff is brewing between Zimbabwe and Malawi following the latter’s failure to pay for the electoral material loaned to Malawi and was destroyed by fire.
Sources in the Malawi government said the new government was not willing to pay for the material which were loaned in mysterious circumstances as ZEC was then accused of trying to rig elections in favour of the former Malawi president Joyce Banda.zec

In the build up to the elections Malawian president Joyce Banda reportedly roped in her new close ally President Robert Mugabe’s government and shadowy Israeli security company Nikuv International Projects to computerise the country’s home affairs department and supply voter registration cards as the country prepares for general elections in 2014,

The disclosures on the Nikuv saga showed that Banda sent a Malawian team for attachment to Registrar General (Tobaiwa Mudede)’s offices which undertook the chaotic voter registration exercise and managed the shambolic voters’ roll ahead of the July 31 polls.

A few months before the elections chaos brewed as opposition political parties in Malawi questioned the teaming up of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) with the country’s electoral body, alleging it is a conspiracy to rig the May 20 polls in favour of Banda.
Almost a year after some of the electoral material loaned to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was destroyed in a fire, the latter has not yet received any official communication from its counterpart.

According to the Malawian media, gas cylinders and lamps and ballot boxes that MEC had borrowed during its tripartite elections last year, were reportedly destroyed during a fire that gutted the commission’s warehouses in Lilongwe.

However, MEC was still to communicate officially to ZEC about the incident and how much material was damaged.

“ZEC did not and has to date not received any written or official communication from the Malawi Electoral Commission confirming that part of its loaned equipment was burnt in a fire during the May Tripartite elections,” said the chairperson of the commission, Justice Rita Makarau.

This is despite the fact that the incident was covered extensively by the Malawian media.

Speaking to Nyasa Times at the time, MEC’s chief elections officer Willie Kalonga confirmed that 1 500 ballot boxes had been destroyed along with several gas cylinders and lamps.

Prior to the elections, MEC borrowed 8 452 gas cylinders and 9 500 gas lamps and tents from Zimbabwe.

It was alleged that 933 lamps, 257 gas cylinders, 13 tent-roofs and 55 tent sides borrowed from ZEC, were lost in the fire.