By Isaac Salima:
Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has announced that determination of a winner for both the parliamentary and local government elections will be set at 50 percent plus one vote of the valid votes cast.
Mec chairperson Chifundo Kachale made the announcement in a press statement released Monday.
“The commission has considered the provisions of section 96 (5) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and section 80 (5) of the Local Government Elections Act and the interpretation of the word “majority” by both the Constitutional Court in Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima and Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera v. Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika & the Electoral Commission, Constitutional Reference No. 1 of 2019 and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika & the Electoral Commission v. Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima and Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera,” the statement reads.
The 50%+1 system was used in the fresh presidential election where Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance triumphed after amassing 58 percent of the total valid votes cast.
Mec has also deferred the November 10 scheduled parliamentary elections in Mangochi West, Mangochi North East and Phalombe North constituencies.
Kachale said the decision has been made in order to allow them to prepare for implementation of several processes of conducting the elections as ordered by the High Court.
The court ordered that only the candidates who participated in the 2019 parliamentary elections will be eligible to contest in the elections and their status and party affiliations be maintained. The court also said that the voters register will be reset to the state it was on May, 21 2019.
Simeon Harrison who challenged results of Mangochi West constituency said he was happy with Mec’s decision.
“Actually this is what we wanted when we went to court,” Harrison said.
However, on 50%+1, Dean of Law at Chancellor College Sunduzwayo Madise said he does not think that this is what the High Court and the Supreme Court meant in their interpretation.
He said the courts were called upon to interpret ‘majority’ in relation to the presidential election as provided for in the Constitution and not under the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and the Local Government Elections Act.
“In my view, Mec should not bind itself with the definition of majority of President and extend this definition to election of Members of Parliament and councillors. The latter is a different type of election altogether. If this were to be upheld, looking at recent electoral results for MPs and Councillors, Mec would essentially be holding reruns in all constituencies and wards. This is not tenable. In my opinion, Mec should not stretch, extend or extrapolate the 50%+1 definition of majority beyond the presidency,” Madise said.
On the other hand, political analyst George Phiri welcomed the news, saying Mec has only implemented what was already there.
The electoral body has also announced that elections for Lilongwe North West and Karonga Central constituencies and Makhuwira South Ward in Chikwawa will proceed as planned on November 10.
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