Government officials organized a spectacular ceremony to receive assorted relief items for flood survivors from Russia, just days after accusing Russians of being among those planning to rig the May 21 polls.
The Russian Ambassador to Malawi Sergey V. Bakharev handed over items worth over K750 Million to the Minister responsible for Disaster Management Affairs-DODMA Nicholas Dausi on Monday in Lilongwe.
The claims of rigging were made by President Mutharika who told a mass rally in Ntchisi district that some politicians have put in place strategies to rig the elections.
The DPP leader alleges that some local politician has hired foreign professionals from Russia, Greece and Nigeria to offset TNM and Airtel mobile networks on the polling day.
According to Mutharika, the foreign experts are already in the country with sophisticated machines to be used in the said operation.
Following the development Immigration officials were directed to scrutinize Russians, Indians and Nigerians in all check points
National Spokesperson for the Immigration Department Joseph Chauwa told Capital FM that they are just doing their job.
“Our operations are normal operation, as a security department of the government we have to make sure that elections are conducted in a safe and secure environment. So our on our part we manage the borders and people coming into the country, so to us this is a normal operation,” Chauwa said.
The accusations of rigging were however not raised or repeated at the ceremony where the Russian’s Ambassador who is based in Harare, Zimbabwe handed over the items to Dausi.
The ceremony however was being widely criticized on social media where people were saying the claims of Russian hackers were made simply to take people for a ride.
Officials of the Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC are however not amused.
“Anybody who has evidence, credible evidence should bring the evidence so that the matter can be handled by the rightful body i.e. the police, to do the investigations. We cannot just react to what is being spoken on political platforms without them coming to us to give us credible evidence,” stressed Commissioner for MEC Mary Nkosi.
With the all-important elections now just weeks away, they (MEC) say claims of rigging could influence voters to stay away.
“Whatever the intentions are we would like to avoid creating voter apathy, and putting fear in people minds,” Nkosi added.
A Political Science Lecturer at Livingstonia University George Phiri also comments on the matter;
“For inter relations and diplomacy, the issue must be handled with care, because any destruction in international relations with other countries, may even jeopardize our performance as a country”. He said
Echoing Nkosi comments on the matter, Phiri also emphasized on the need for evidence to support such rigging allegation.
“Yes the President mentioned Nigerians and Russians being involved in the rigging of the vote, but I don’t think the allegations are substantiated with evidence,” Phiri said.
Meanwhile, there are calls for the President to be cautious as Commander in Chief of the army, not to raise any security alarm.