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Peter Mutharika tight-lipped on Mec commissioners

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Peter Mutharika

There is uncertainty on whether President Peter Mutharika will act on Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament recommendations to fire all Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners over gross mismanagement of the May 21 2019 presidential election.

In line with the court order which nullified last May’s presidential election, Pac conducted competence audit for all Mec commissioners, including Chairperson Jane Ansah and found them incompetent to handle the forthcoming fresh presidential election.

As per requirement, Pac recommended to Mutharika the firing of the commissioners—Linda Kunje, Mary Nkosi, Jean Mathanga, Moffat Banda, Yahaya M’madi, Elvey Mtafu, Killon Mgawi, Clifford Baloyi and Ansah—to pave the way for the appointment of new commissioners to take charge of the forthcoming polls.

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Mutharika’s spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, Mon

day could not say if Mutharika has acted on Pac’s recommendation.

“What came from Pac were recommendations only. The decision to fire or not to fire lies with the President. The President shall exercise these powers using his discretion as the law requires,” he said.

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Kalilani further said Mutharika cannot be forced to mention dates when he intends to fire the commissioners because it is open to him to decide according to his constitutionally given discretion.

Recently, Parliament set May 19 as the day for holding fresh presidential election.

However, for this to happen there is need for Mutharika to move with speed to assent to the passed electoral reform Bills and appoint new Mec commissioners.

Pac Chairperson, Collins Kajawa, could not be reached on his mobile phone to comment on the possible legal options which Pac has is an event that Mutharika does not fire the commissioners.

His deputy Racheal Zulu refused to comment on the matter, saying Kajawa was well placed to comment.

However, Dean of Law at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Sunduzwayo Madise, in an interview last Wednesday, urged Mutharika to quickly act on the recommendations made by Parliament as well as to assent to the electoral reform bills to pave the way for fresh election.

Madise said the delay to adopt the recommendations by Parliament will send a bad signal about the status of Malawi democracy.

“The President must rise above being the President of his party [DPP] or somebody else who was affected by the court ruling. He must assent to the bills to ensure that Malawi moves forward with peace and stability,” he said.

On what will happen if the Supreme Court overrules the Constitutional Court judgement, Madise said Parliament has powers to repeal all the actions which will be made in line with the Constitutional Court order which nullified the presidential election results.

“As you can see that we have started eating into the 150 days the court gave us. So the fear of what will happen at the Supreme Court should not stop us from implementing the things which the court ordered in line with fresh presidential election,” he said.

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