Former president and People’s Party (PP) president Joyce Banda has asked Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to adjust downwards nomination fees for aspirants saying the current fee structure has made next year’s tripartite polls an elitist venture that only favours the rich.
Banda, fondly called JB by her admirers, was speaking before thousands of enthusiastic party supporters at a rally she held in Area 23, Lilongwe on Thursday.
She said the current economic situation in the country only favours the rich, even in seeking political office where exorbitant nomination fees prevent the poor from participating in elections.
In its recent official communication MEC announced that Presidential aspirants will have to pay K2 million. Male members of Parliament will cough K500 000 with their female counterparts parting with K200 000. Aspiring male councillors will pay K40 000 while female candidates will pay K20 000.
JB therefore asked the electoral body to review the fee structure so as to make the election as inclusive as possible for all Malawians seeking elected office.
“The nomination fee for members of Parliament is too much [K500 000]. The poor cannot afford. I will reduce the amount if voted into power. There are capable people who can stand as members of Parliament but fail to do so because of the fees,” she said.
MEC has also been faulted for making the fees non-refundable as opposed to previous general elections when the body used to refund candidates that had amassed a certain percentage of total valid votes cast.
Spokesman for the electoral body, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, T said the issue of the fees is about the laws which Parliament sets to govern elections.
He said such a law demands that a candidate must bring their nomination paper alongside such a fee.
“The same law gives the Malawi Electoral Commission [the mandate] to determine the amount to be paid. Although the law is silent on the need for the commission to consult, the commission took a deliberate step and brought ideas to the political parties before gazetting the current nominations fees,” he said.
Mwafulirwa said the commission cannot adjust the fees at this stage of the electoral calendar because the law requires that the fees should be gazzeted six month before elections.
He said the fees are deposited into MEC bank account and they go into the government’s consolidated fund such that any expenditure is at the discretion of the government and not the commission.
The Area 23 rally was the first of the three lined up to mark the end of 2018. Next on her schedule is a rally at Bembeke School Ground in Dedza followed by a final event at Songani School Ground in Zomba on Sunday, December 30.
With the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections fast approaching, Banda said she will contest as a presidential candidate and will not play second fiddle in any coalition.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :