Mec says all set for fresh election
With just hours left before Malawians go out to vote for their president, the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has reiterated that its desire is to conduct nothing but a credible election.
The country is Tuesday voting again to elect a president after the courts nullified President Peter Mutharika’s 2019 re-election.
Addressing the press at the main tally centre at College of Medicine in Blantyre Sunday evening, Mec Chairperson Chifundo Kachale urged Malawians to desist from spreading rumours that the election will be rigged, saying everything regarding the poll is and will continue to be as transparent as possible.
He also dismissed rumours that some ballot boxes have already been stuffed with already marked ballot papers and that some District Commissioners have already filled election results sheets in favour of a certain candidate.
According to Kachale, no introduction of fake ballot papers can be possible as observers and party representatives will be allowed to watch the opening of all ballot boxes and relevant documents before polling starts Tuesday.
“We are here because the court faulted our processes in the past. So, we would not do anything that compromises the integrity of the election,” the Mec chairperson said.
He also disclosed that ballot papers have already reached all constituencies where they were being distributed to polling stations.
In response to a question on the system Mec will use in determining the winner of the election after Parliament failed to amend the Constitution so that the 50%+1 provision is included, the Mec chairperson said the electoral body will use what the Supreme Court interpreted to mean majority.
“From a jurisprudential perspective, the highest court on the land has provided clarity on majority to mean 50%+1 and the commission will use that in this election,” Kachale said.
He also said Mec still needs the remaining K10 billion to pay for various election-related services, saying Parliament already appropriated the funding and that it is now with the Executive to release the resources.
“This is not a private event. It is a public event that was budgeted for by Parliament and the Executive is supposed to fund it. We need the money,” Kachale said.
Meanwhile, the Mec chairperson has also disclosed that everything is set for the fresh poll with security officers from the Malawi Police Service and the Malawi Defence Force, Presiding Officers and Polling Station Officers, among others, already engaged for their respective tasks.
Tomorrow’s presidential election follows the nullification of last year’s vote after Malawi Congress Party and UTM leaders Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima, respectively, petitioned the court alleging widespread irregularities.
A panel of five High Court judges, that handled the petition case as a constitutional referral, ordered that the fresh poll should be held within 150 days from February 3 when it delivered its judgement.
The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the judgement and ‘reluctantly’ agreed with the 150-days order, arguing the poll should, in fact, have been held within 60 days from the day the lower court delivered its judgement.
Mutharika, representing the Democratic Progressive Party and United Democratic Front Alliance, and Chakwera, representing the Tonse Alliance, are the frontrunners in this election with the third candidate being Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.