Five judges are being tipped to be picked for the head of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) post which the Judicial Services Commission is set to narrow down to three nominees to be presented to the appointing authority, the President for consideration.
The position of MEC chairperson fell vacant after Jane Ansah—a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal— resigned last month.
President Peter Mutharika has written the Judicial Service Commission to nominate names of judges to be considered for the position of MEC chairperson.
Among the names being touted to be selected include High Court judges Kenyatta Nyirenda, Zione Veronica Ntaba, Charles Mkandawire, Sylvester Kalembera and Jack N’riva.
According to professor of law at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College Garton Kamchezera, any judge from the High Court can work as MEC chairperson.
He said it is “wrong public perception” that only judges from the Supreme Court of Appeal can be appointed as chair of MEC.
The Constitution in Section 75 (1) stipulates that there shall be an Electoral Commission which shall consists of a Chairman who shall be a Judge nominated in that behalf by the Judicial Services Commission and such other members, not being less than six, as may be appointed in accordance with an Act of Parliament.
Kamchezera said the appointing authority could this time pick a judge from the High Court, considering that the Supreme Court bench upheld a judgement of the High Court’s Constitutional Court that nullified last year’s presidential election.
One of the private practice lawyers David Kanyenda has said none of the Judicial Officers who were involved in the elections petition case would be a suitable replacement of Ansah.
This leaves Justice Dunstain Fipamutima Mwaungulu as the sole Supreme Court Justice of Appeal who was not involved in the elections case.
However, Mwaungulu, a respectable judge with a glittering career in the judiciary, is holed up in London following the lockdown and is also ruled out for short term to preside over the fresh elections.
Mwaungulu is also fast approaching retirement and wouldn’t complete a full term as MEC Chair, it was observed.
Five High Court judges Healey Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo could also not be considered as they handled the election case at Constitution Court.
Meanwhile, the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) will share the number of electoral body commissioners as they are the only parties represented in Parliament that qualify to submit names of candidates.
The new Act provides that political parties which secure more than one tenth of the national vote in election to Parliament should submit a maximum of three names as their nominees for consideration as MEC commissioners.
Malawians will go to polls for the court-ordered fresh presidential election within 150 days from February 3 2020.
Initially, the election was set for July 2 before a recent proposal to move it to June 23, which is yet to be confirmed by Parliament.
Parliament is due to sit on 5 June and a new budget is supposed to be passed by 30 June. There are doubts that ballot papers from overseas security printers could be obtained in time for 23 June.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :