The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has has pushed to October 2021 by-elections, which were initially slated for September 13, 2021 due to the Covid-19 situation.
MEC was expected to conduct the by-elections in Nkhota Kota North East Constituency where Member of Parliament (MP) Martha Chanjo Lunji of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) died on July 13, 2021 and in Dedza Central East Constituency formerly held by late Mcsteyn Swithin Mkomba of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who died on July 27, 2021.
The electoral body was also expected to conduct ward council by-elections in Chimwalire Ward in Balaka South Constituency held by Councillor Josephy Daniel of the DPP who died August 4, 2021.
According to a press release issued by the Commission on Friday, August 13, 2021 and signed by its Chairperson Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale, the postponement follows its meeting held on Monday, August 8, 2021, with the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force and the Board for Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), which is a representative body of all political parties represented in Parliament, to consult on how the by-elections can be conducted under the current Public Health (Corona Virus and Covid-19) (Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules, 2021.
“The parties to the meeting, having considered the epidemiological information presented by the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force, decided that it is not safe to proceed with the conduct of the by-elections as set and strongly recommended to the Commission that the elections be deferred to October, 2021 when the Covid-19 infection rates are projected to decline.
The press release says the Commission is, meanwhile, seeking an audience with the Office of the Speaker to formalize the position taken that the elections be deferred by engaging the Speaker for 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 expeditiously as possible after the expiry of that period.”
“Immediately after this position is formalized, the Commission will issue a revised calendar for the by-elections which will carry a new date of polling,” concludes the press release.
The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday, August 12, 2021 that the country had registered 321 new Covid-19 cases, 296 new recoveries and 24 new deaths on that day. Blantyre had located 91 cases while 50 cases in Lilongwe, 26 from Mangochi, 15 from Mzimba South, 14 from Karonga, 13 from Mzimba North, 11 each from Chikwawa, Mchinji, and Salima, 10 from Zomba, seven from Neno, six each from Chitipa, Kasungu, Nkhata Bay, and Phalombe, five each from Dedza and Likoma, four each from Dowa and Nsanje, three each from Mulanje, Mwanza, Ntcheu, and Rumphi, two each Balaka, Machinga, and Nkhotakota, and one each from Ntchisi and Thyolo districts.
“24 new deaths were registered in the past 24 hours; six from Lilongwe, three from Ntchisi, two each from Blantyre, Mzimba North, Kasungu, Mchinji, and Rumphi, and one each from Mangochi, Mzimba South, Ntcheu, Machinga, and Chitipa districts,” said the ministry in a press release signed by Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Minister of Health and Co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19.