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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Government should not justify Mec’s decision

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We cannot agree more with Members of Parliament who Tuesday took to task Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe over the Malawi Electoral Commission’s (Mec) ill-conceived and ill-timed decision to call off by-elections that were scheduled for some wards and constituencies in Lilongwe on June 6.

The legislators in the august House are suspicious why the elections were postponed due to funding, yet out of K1 billion that was allocated for by-elections in 2016/2017 financial year, about K500 million was used for last November’s by-elections.

It is indeed strange that the government has withdrawn funding for the elections that were budgeted for in the 2016/17 financial year. Gondwe’s explanation that Capital Hill was simply being careful with using resources outside the budget falls flat on its face.

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Indeed, the government’s decision simply renders credence to the People’s Party’s Acting President Uladi Mussa’s claims that the Democratic Progressive Party had a very big hand in the commission’s unpopular decision because the ruling party is scared of losing the by-elections in Lilongwe.

It is common knowledge that the law mandates the commission to hold elections in constituencies that are vacant within 60 days. And funding or no funding, there can never be justification for violating the law.

By trying to justify the commission’s u-turn, the government is not only violating the law but also denying the people of these particular wards and constituencies their right to representation in the august House, thereby compromising the pace of development.

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Now, we are very, very scared that the government is in the forefront violating the very law it is supposed to defend jealously.

The government has raised serious suspicions on its role in the commission, which is an important organ in a democracy like ours. We can only be more afraid as what will happen as we head towards the 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Mec should seriously reflect on its mission statement which mandates it “to be a professional organisation that delivers credible elections in accordance with national laws and international best practices to strengthen genuine democracy and peace in Malawi.”

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