JB told to open up MBC: MEC wants a level playing field for Malawi candidates

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has requested President Joyce Banda to ensure that all contestants in the May 20 polls have equal access to the public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

MEC Chairperson, Justice Maxon Mbendera, made the appeal Friday when President Banda presented her nomination papers alongside her running mate, Sosten Gwengwe, at the COMESA Hall in Blantyre.

Mbendera said as a sitting president, Banda had “extremely visible” advantages over the other contestants as such it was imperative that she levels the playing field if the country is to have free, fair and credible elections.

Justice Mbendera all candidates must access MBC equally
Justice Mbendera all candidates must access MBC equally

He said sitting presidents enjoy advantages that other candidates cannot and will not because of the office they hold.

“There is always tension between free, fair and credible elections and the incumbency that a sitting president enjoys…The advantage of a sitting president are extremely visible all the time.

“The President meets people at Sanjika Palace, it is beamed on TV, the president goes to a meeting, it is beamed on TV. Nothing wrong there, that’s the way it is the world over.

“But I suggest that the solution to this conundrum is… I would entreat you that you allow the improvement of those that have no advantages that you possess, you have it by virtue of office, they don’t have it because they don’t have the office,” said Justice Mbendera.

“I would be entreating you because I know you know what needs to be done and I do not need to spell it out. It’s a race which obviously Malawians will determine at the end of the day.”

MEC officially closed the presentation of nomination papers Friday afternoon with People’s Transformation Party (PETRA) President, Kamuzu Chibambo, being the last to file the papers.

Eleven presidents will challenge President Banda during the May 20 polls. These include PETRA’s Chibambo, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Rev Dr Lazarous Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic Front’s (UDF), Atupele Muluzi and George Mnensa of MAFUNDE.

Others are Hellen Singh of United Independence Party (UIP), Peoples Progressive Movement’s (PPM), Mark Katsonga Phiri and his brother Aaron Davis Katsonga of Chipani Cha Pfuko (CCP), Prof John Chisi of Umodzi Party (UP) and National Salvation Front’s (NASAF), James Mbowe Nyondo, and Friday Jumbe who will lead the New Labour Party (NLP).

Two independent presidential aspirants, Damiano Ganiza and Sangwani Soko, withdrew their candidature after they reportedly failed to raise the K1 million nomination fee as required by the law.

Official campaign for the elections starts on March 21, a day after the dissolution of the National Assembly.PRESENTATION

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