THE Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) has launched the Malawi Election Information Center (MEIC), a multi-stakeholder initiative that establishes an Election Situation Room (ESR) in the country.
The ESR is being run in Malawi for the very first time and is targeting the tripartite elections scheduled for 20 May. Countries that have previously run an ESR include Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, among others.
The primary aim of MEIC is to use multi-stakeholder collaboration as a way of enhancing the holding of free, fair and credible elections in Malawi. This means that the ESR will provide a platform where Civil Society Organisations come together to positively contribute on elections observations, monitoring rapid response and proactive advocacy.
“In our view, this form of collaboration makes efficient use of resources and greatly enhances electoral stakeholders’ capabilities to ensure an open and transparent process that inspires the confidence of all Malawians,” said Steve Duwa, MESN Chairperson ahead of the project launch.
MEIC will be deploying an integrated cutting-edge technology from SMAG Media UK Ltd., GoToVote & Ushahidi that will enable Malawians to:
- Verify their voter registration status using mobile phones
- Send multiple reports from communities via SMS and social media channels (citizen journalism);
- Source verified and credible information in other parts of Malawi before, during and after elections
- Benefit from the trained observers deployed across Malawi who supply real time updates from polling streams and;
- Access UNOFFICIAL results data sourced from accredited Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) polling streams.
“MESN takes great pride in presiding over this convergence of fundamental democratic processes with technological innovation. That this is happening in our 50th year of Independence tells of the remarkable strides Malawi has taken over this number of years,” Duwa also said.
He added: “More importantly, the Election Situation Room initiative points to a future in which technology empowers citizens to become actively engaged throughout the electoral cycle, exercising their rights by participating in the on-going democratic processes of their country across multiple platforms. As MESN, through the Malawi Election Information Centre, we are pleased to bring this future to Malawians for the very first time in the upcoming May 20 tripartite elections.”
Speaking at the launch event, the Malawi Electoral Commission’s (MEC) Chief Elections Officer, Willie Kalonga said his institution backed MEIC.
“We are supportive of MEIC,” Kalonga said, going on to make a toast to the success of the project.
Different stakeholders, amongst them representatives of government, civil society, political parties, diplomatic corps, media and citizens attended the launch event.