Teachers protest over irregularities in recruitment of polling staff

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Over100 concerned teachers in Mulanje stormed the district council premises on Wednesday asking it to follow Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)’s guidelines and procedures on recruitment of polling staff.

The protests come barely four days after the electoral body released a circular denying all non-teachers from taking part in the exercise.

Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency, one teacher who opted for anonymity, said they wanted to know the method that was used in recruiting polling staff, arguing that many teachers were left out.

“Teachers have been taking part in the previous elections. This year however, we were surprised that the list that came out for polling officers and clerks had only a few teachers.

“In some schools, it happened that they have only picked the head teacher, the rest of the polling staff are businessmen and local people or relations of Primary Education Advisors,” he added.

The teacher said after raising the concern to relevant authorities, they felt they have been answered through the circular that was released by MEC, dated May 12, 2019 and was signed by the Chief Elections Officer, Mr Sam Alfandika with the subject: Revisiting Recruitment of Polling Staff.

He said teachers have since threatened not to cast their votes on May 21 in protest, if the issue is not addressed.

In his reaction, District Commissioner for Mulanje, Charles Makanga, who is also the District’s Elections Supervisor, said he has referred the matter to the District Education Manager (DEM) to sort it out according to MEC’s guidelines.

“We have heard the concerns. It is true that some of the polling staff that are recruited are not teachers.

“In light of this, I have instructed the DEM to scrutinize the polling staff list by using employment numbers. If they find anyone who is not a teacher, that person will be removed and replaced by a teacher from that school or the nearest,” Makanga said.

Mulanje District Elections Clerk, Derrick Ng’ambi said the district has 2, 847 posts out of which 2, 621 are filled by teachers and 226 filled by civil servants from various government sectors in centers which are not located in schools.

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