Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has postponed by-elections for Lilongwe South Constituency, which were scheduled for November 5, as the electoral body says it needs more time to review the political environment in the constituency as well as attend to complaints lodged by stakeholders.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate for the constituency, Frank Mazizi, wrote a letter to Mec complaining about incidences of violence that have been taking place in the constituency.
A statement released Tuesday by Mec and signed by Mec Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika, says the commission received a complaint regarding the volatile situation in the constituency, adding that even Mec members of staff have been targeted.
“On October 25, 2019 one of the Mec commissioners was blocked and stoned while on a campaign monitoring exercise. Secretariat members of staff who were putting up posters were also stopped and verbally intimidated.
“The Commission has, therefore, resolved to postpone the by-elections in the constituency until further notice,” the statement reads.
But Malawi Congress Party candidate Peter Dimba has said he will drag Mec to court over its decision to have the by-elections rescheduled, arguing the electoral body is taking the people of the area for granted.
“It is unfortunate that Mec has actually reacted in that way to have the by-elections postponed. We have been spending resources and, for five months, the area has had no representation in Parliament. So we are going to seek court redress because we feel our rights have been infringed upon,” he said.
On his part, Mazizi also said the situation is unfortunate arguing all he wanted was for Mec to level the playing field so that all candidates should compete without being intimidated.
“After the postponement [of the parliamentary elections in the constituency after the death of one of the candidates Agnes Penemulungu prior to the May 21 elections], this was our opportunity to close the matter and have the area represented [in Parliament]. We are now in suspense in terms of resources and mentally. I do not want anything from Mec apart from levelling the playing field,” he said.
Five people are vying for the parliamentary seat in the constituency, namely Dimba, Mazizi, Julius Chombwe of Mbakuwaku Movement and independents Patson Kachingwe and Samson Phinifolo.
Mec was scheduled to hold by-elections in Lilongwe South Constituency and Matanje Ward in kasungu. The electoral body has since said Matanje Ward elections will proceed as planned.
There has been political unrest in the country since the announcement of the May 21 elections with some citizens holding protests to force the resignation of Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah.
Currently, there is a court case in which MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM leader Saulos Chilima are contesting results of presidential elections.