Opposition political parties expressed doubt on the presentation of presidential nomination papers event ahead of the July 2 2020 fresh presidential election as Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) was yet to communicate to the parties, a day before the event.
The parties have further condemned the commission’s silence on the commencement of second phase on registration period, which was expected to start Tuesday, according to the election calendar.
The two activities, failure of the start of the second phase of the voter registration exercise and doubt on the presentation of presidential nomination papers come despite Supreme Court order to Mec to continue with election preparations. Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka said there was no any communication to the party regarding the presentation of nomination papers for presidential hopefuls which was expected to take place on April 23, and 24, 2020.
“We saw the initial calendar but there is no communication regarding the logistics of the exercise to date,” Mkaka said. Mkaka expressed doubt on whether the exercise will take place as planned saying in normal circumstances; the commission could have released a programme of events indicating the timetable and other logistics before the actual dates.
“It is doubtful if we are going ahead as planned but check with the commission itself,” he said. Buttressing the point, UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga expressed doubt whether the nominations will take place in the absence of any communication from Mec apart from the initial calendar that was released in March 2020.
“We expected to receive a communication from the commission on how to go about the process. What we have is the electoral calendar which was released in March, 2020 but there no communication whatsoever from Mec if we are going ahead with the exercise,” Malunga said.
Mec director of media and communication, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, said the commission will officially communicate to the public on the matter. “Wait for official communication. We will release an official communication regarding the exercise in due course,” he said when asked about the two activities.
The second phase of the voter registration, targeting districts of Likoma, Rumphi Mzimba Lilongwe Luchenza Phalombe Mulanje, was expected to start Tuesday and end on May 5, 2020 but failed.
MCP spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali said Mec was confusing people by delaying to announce when it will resume the voters registration exercise as ordered by the court.
Munthali said political parties did their role in sensitising people on the voter registration as the electoral body has been emphasising that the electoral activities are achieved with collective efforts. “We are getting calls from people questioning the silence of Mec on the second phase commencement [of voter registration] and we do not have [an] answer to give them. Mec should stop confusing people on the electoral process because everybody knows that the court said there must continue with the registration exercise,” Munthali said.
Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Nicholas Dausi did not comment on the delayed second phase of voter registration and said he wanted to consult on the presidential nomination paper presentation. Legal expert Justin Dzonzi said he expected the commission to be communicating electoral processes in advance. “Mec has acquired a lot of experience in handling of the elections and quite naturally all the processes which are supposed to involve the political parties are supposed to be communicated well in advance.
“However, the small challenge which I see with the handling of the fresh elections relate to several intervening factors that are affecting the preparations such as the Covid-19 which forced government to declare a lockdown which subsequently forced Mec to stop registrations, the impending court proceedings and so on and so forth,” he said.
Mec concluded the first phase of voter registration on Saturday, April 18 and according to the electoral calendar the exercise was supposed to continue after three days of transition. Mec is also expected to give a summary of number of voters who have registered in the first phase of the registration.
The first registration was being held in Chitipa and Karonga in the Northern region, Salima and Dedza in the central Region and Blantyre and Chikwawa in the Southern Region.