Katsonga challenges MEC on clean campaign: Malawi 2014 elections

Presidential candidate for Chipani Cha Pfuko during the May 20 election, Davis Chester  Katsonga says the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) should forget about its call for the clean campaign period during forthcoming official campaign unless it rectifies an anomaly in the law that governs what one can say during the campaign period.

MEC has of late been preaching about clean and issues-based campaign ahead of the elections.  The message was like a national anthem to political leaders during the presentation of nomination papers for the presidential candidates.

Katsonga told a state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Radio 1 on Wednesday that unless MEC review a provision in the electoral law which allows politicians to verbally attack each other without fear of facing legal action, the forthcoming campaign period will remain just like previous campaign periods when aspiring candidates would attack each other at will.

Davis Katsonga: MEC should be an impartial referee in these elections
Davis Katsonga: MEC should be an impartial referee in these elections

“There is a law that says you cannot take anybody to court if they say a lie about a fellow candidate during that particular period. We think that this does not help the nation to have a clean campaign because, you know that you can say anything about anybody during this period and they can do nothing about it.

“How can the Malawi Electoral Commission expect the campaign to be clean while the provision in the law provides for people to say anything they want to say without being accountable? I think this in an anomaly that needs to be reviewed in future. It’s a bit late now,” Katsonga said.

But MEC commissioner Revered Emanuel Chikwita-Phiri faulted Katsonga saying the electoral body has developed a code of conduct for all the political parties to follow during and after election period.

“We have  come up which a subsidiary legislation which is in form of codes of conduct that political parties and all candidates sign up to regulate the conduct of the election. And the codes of conduct are clear on what should be done or what can be done and it’s enforceable”.

Chikwita –Phiri said there is no law that tolerates mudslinging.

“It is not true that if people mudsling, call each other names, incite violence and the law will let you go scot-free. Come March 21 when we begin the official campaign, the Malawi Electoral Commission will be regulating political campaigns but we will rely on petitions from people because we are not everywhere. So, if they will come to us and complain, definitely the law will take its course,” he said.

He said the code of conduct will just be used as how the referee uses the whistle:

“You will blow a whistle to warn. You may blow a whistle to give a yellow card then we can give you a red card. People shouldn’t tempt the Electoral Commissioner. The maximum penalty that was revised when we were revising the electoral law last year the stands at half a million Malawi Kwacha when people infringe on electoral law,” he said.

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