Recognizing the administrative and managerial challenges that hampered the smooth running of the tripartite general elections in 2014;

Being responsible duty-bearers and stakeholders in the quality and credibility of the electoral process and its outcomes in Malawi;

Inspired by our collective determination to ensure credible, effective and efficient administration and management of future elections;

Members of the Electoral Commission(EC), representatives of civil society organizations embodied in the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN); and representatives of Political Parties embodied in the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) met on 5th and 6th October, 2016 at Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu to consider proposals for relevant electoral reforms.


Observations of thetripartite meeting

Upon deliberation and review of the process of electoral reforms this far, participants observed as follows:

That Malawi’s electoral experiences across five general elections since the transition to multiparty democracy in 1994 show clear need for electoral reforms that would achieve the following desired results:

  1. Improve  representation, legitimacy and inclusiveness of the electoral process and electoral outcomes;
  2. Improve coherence of the laws, rules and regulations governing elections;
  3. Improve the impartiality, effectiveness, efficiency and credibility of election administration and management;
  4. To enhance education and access to information to ensure that voters are adequately and appropriately informed about electoral process.


That some of the proposed reforms require changing existing legislation or introducing new legislation and that the Law Commission is working on these reforms;

That other proposed reforms require consensus among key stakeholders followed by administrative action to implement them;

That the processes of electoral law reform and administrative reform can run simultaneously and parallel to each other;


Areas for non –legislative electoral reforms


In view of the foregoing observations, participants considered set sof proposed administrative reforms aimed at:

  1. Improving  the delivery of Election Day materials;
  2. Improving the  management and transmission of election results;
  3. Facilitating voter registration and verification of voters;
  4. Strengthening Voter Education and Voter Information.


Upon moderation of in-depth discussion of problem diagnosis and proposed reforms, participants resolved as follows with respect to each proposed set of reforms:


Reforms to improve delivery of Election Day materials

  1. The Electoral Commission will embark on a process of organization reform to decentralize its functions and this will be in the Commission’s strategic plan period for the period 2017-2023;
  2. At the opening of each polling station on a polling day, the Electoral Commission should ensure that materials are sufficient for that particular polling station on the basis of the voters’ roll;
  3. The Electoral Commission will distribute Election Day materials guided by criteria that distinguishes between sensitive and non-sensitive materials and that the EC will sensitize all stakeholders about the criteria;
  4. All sensitive election materials (ballot papers, indelible ink and results sheet) will be delivered to District Councils straight from the airport four days before polling day;
  5. The Electoral Commission will work out a more reliable arrangement for acquiring vehicles needed for the distribution of Election Day materials.

Reforms to improve the management and transmission of results

  1. Presiding officers shall record and display election results per polling stream in addition to displaying  results of the polling station;
  2. The Electoral Commission will acquire software for the management  and transmission of results that can quickly indicate problematic results and that resolution of problems will be inclusive of  representatives of all stakeholder groups in the electoral process;
  3. The software for the management of results will be piloted at least three months before the polling day
  4. The results sheet from polling stations will indicate results in both figures and words;
  5. Constituency Tally centres will be located at  central points in respective constituencies to promote transparency in the aggregation of results and safeguard the integrity of electoral results;

Reforms to facilitate voter registration and verification of voters

  1. The Electoral Commission will use data from the National Registration Bureau to create a national voters roll if the Bureau completes registration in time and in sync with the electoral calendar for the 2019 tripartite elections;
  2. In the event that registration data from the National Registration Bureau is not complete or available in time, the Electoral Commission will carry out own voter registration using the Biometric Voter Registration system;
  3. The Electoral Commission will make available the electronic voters roll available for public viewing  six months before the polling day;
  4. One week of verification for all voters in all centres at the same time, to be implemented in 2019 elections

Reforms to strengthen voter education and voter information

  1. Accreditation and mapping of CSOs shall be done 24 months before Election Day to allow ample time for accredited organisations to mobiliseresources and also to help the Electoral Commission  to verify and check out illegitimate or bogusorganisations;
  2. Accredited organisations shall indicate to the Electoral Commission proof of availability of resources for them to carry out civic and voter education before a review of the mapping;
  3. Electoral Commission  and stakeholders shall review the mapping in the period of 12 to 6 months before polling and carry out necessary administrative steps to address shortfalls,

In terms of implementation of reforms, participants resolved as follows:

  1. That the agreed reforms are for implementation in view of the 2019 tripartite elections;
  2. Those relevant reforms will be piloted during by-elections that will occur before the 2019 general election;
  3. That stakeholders will implement and monitor progress of reforms using an action plan that was jointly developed and agreed on 6th October,2016 at Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu.


Negotiated    and agreed on 6th October 2016 at Grand Palace Hotel, Mzuzu.



Name and Designation


Malawi Electoral Commission





Centre for multiparty Democracy





Malawi Electoral Support Network