Malawi Churches applaud JB for Kachali EC appointment reversal

The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), speaking on behalf of the voiceless, has said the move taken by President Joyce Banda to rescind her appointment of Vice President Khumbo Kachali as overseer for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is commendable.

In a statement released Thursday, the country’s biggest ecumenical Christian body says the development has brought relief on the threatened independence of the electoral process and renewed peoples trust on the presidency.

“As the Church, we strongly recommend the leadership for the reversal which has brought about a sigh of relief and confidence to the Presidency of the Republic of Malawi. We uphold the demonstrated listening and understanding behavior which must be a characterized culture of any leadership that focuses on consultations on national matters,” says the statement signed by General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Osborne Joda-Mbewe.

President Banda appointed Kachali as Minister Responsible for the Malawi Electoral Body in a recent mini cabinet reshuffle, after stripping him of the ministerial in-charge of Health.

Joda-Mbewe; Applaud reversal move

There was an overwhelming outcry on the appointment, as stakeholders and Malawians in general argued the appointment will compromise the independence of the electoral body, despite that proponents argued it was constitutionally sound.

“We also call upon all stakeholders and the people of Malawi to continue to demand for a free and fair electoral process, and urge all Member Churches and Malawians at large to continue to pray towards the maintenance of peace and harmony in the country,” adds MCC.

Made up of 24 member churches across the country and about 20 para-church affiliates, the Council added the Malawi Electoral Commission, by its very nature, structure, and role, demands that it remains strictly transparent, fair, unbiased and most of all independent of any political influences when discharging its duties.

“The appointment of the Vice President as an overseer of the Electoral Commission was therefore seen as a matter of national interest that needed sober and serious attention by all stakeholders to the electoral process.

“As the Church, we were worried that the appointment would compromise the transparency and accountability that the electoral body deserves, and that it may have politicized the process and led to non-free, unfair, and non-transparent elections, particularly that Malawi is moving towards holding its first historical Tripartite Elections come 2014.”

The statement concludes by categorically being supportive of the reversal of the appointment, which the Church says has demonstrated maturity of the leadership in heeding concerns of the people.

“This is a precedence that strengthens our young democracy,” says the Council, quoting the Bible: “…but a wise man listens to advice”, (Proverbs 12: 15).

Kachali, who was stripped of the ministerial portfolio at the Ministry of Health, was given the EC role alongside other responsibilities such as in-charge of the Central Government Stores, National Public Events and Printing Services.

President Banda was forced to withdraw the appointment on Tuesday this weekfollowing a public outcry.

Those who criticised the appointment, argued it was unconstitutional and feared it would compromise the EC’s independence and credibility.

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