Covid-19 forces MEC to push by-elections to October

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has disclosed that by-elections in wards and constituencies that fell vacant due to deaths of office bearers will be held in October 2021.

MEC is supposed to conduct the by-elections in two constituencies and a ward.

MEC Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, disclosed that following recommendations from the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), which represents all political parties, the pollster has shifted the by-elections from September to October, 2021.

MEC Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa

“We have Nkhotakota North East and Dedza Central East Constituencies, which were being held by late Martha Chanjo Lunji and late Mcsteyn Swithin Mkomba of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) respectively. Then we have Chimwalire Ward in Balaka South Constituency which was held by late Councillor Joseph Daniel of the DPP who died on 4th August, 2021, which must be filled,” Mwafulirwa said.

In a press statement signed by MEC Chairperson, Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale, the Commission convened a meeting and the parties to the meeting, having considered the spread and control information presented by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, strongly
recommended that the elections be deferred to October, 2021 when Covid-19
infection on the expectation that the positivity rate would have declined.

And as Mwafulirwa stated, the Commission was seeking an audience with the Office of the Speaker of Parliament to formalise the position taken so that the elections be deferred.

“We want to seek a waiver of the requirement under Section 63 (2) (b) of the Constitution that by-elections must be held within sixty days after the seat of the member becomes vacant or if in the opinion of the Speaker, the circumstances do not so admit, then speedily as possible after the expiry of that period. Immediately after this position is formalised, the commission will issue a revised calendar for the by-elections which will carry a new date of polling,” Mwafulirwa explained.

In readiness for the by-elections, political parties have started conducting primary elections. In Dedza Central East Constituency, former Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Joshua Malango, will represent MCP after defeating other candidates.

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