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Suspense over run-off elections

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Sunduzwayo Madise

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Wednesday failed to explain how they will be guided in case of a runoff in the forthcoming by-elections following its decision to adopt the 50 percent plus one vote system in all elections.

Parliament has not yet provided the law on how the electoral body should conduct runoff elections when candidates fail to amass the required votes.

But Mec Chairperson, Chifundo Kachale, said the commission is only adhering to the Supreme Court of Appeal decision that defined the majority at 50 plus one vote for a candidate to be declared a winner in any election.

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“The jurisprudence has further observed that the absence of runoff provisions should not be a basis for finding convenient meanings that cover or conceal the inadequacies. As Mec, therefore, we cannot cite the absence of legal guidance on how to handle runoffs to ignore this meaning of ‘majority’. The courts have said that where there are deficiencies they need to be pointed out and legislated for,” Kachale said.

He also said if the need arises, the commission will seek guidance on how to handle the situation.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in the presidential election case ordered that laws have to be put in place to facilitate a possible runoff but Parliament is yet to deliberate on the matter.

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Kachale said Mec is on Friday expected to meet Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) to discuss with political parties on its decision.

Mec will on November, 10 2020 conduct by-elections in three constituencies of Lilongwe West and Karonga Central constituencies and Makhwira Ward in Chikwawa while it has deferred polls in constituencies of Mangochi West, Mangochi North East and Phalombe North to prepare for the implementation of several processes of conducting the elections as ordered by the High Court.

Chancellor College Dean of Law, Sunduzwayo Madise, is on record having argued that Mec should not bind itself to the law as he thinks that the 50 percent plus one vote provision was meant for presidential elections.

Madise also said using the law would give Mec so much pressure to conduct reruns in all constituencies and wards.

Government has provided K300 million out of the budgeted K1 billion for the by-elections in all areas.

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