Malawi Electoral Commission launches 2014 tripartite elections

With about 340 days to go before the country holds its first ever tripartite polls, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Friday set the rhythm by finally launching the historic elections.

Eligible Malawians will go to the polls on 20 May, 2014 to choose their preferred councilors, members of parliament and State President to represent them for the next five years.

Besides launching the 2014 elections, MEC also launched its five-year Strategic Plan and the Civic and Voter Education Strategy which it says will enable the electoral body to reach the electorate and adequately equip them to vote wisely.

Speaking at the triple launch Friday in Blantyre, MEC Chairperson  Justice Maxon Mbendera said the Commission was committed to creating and fostering a condusive environment for free, fair and credible elections.

Justice Mbendera: MEC wants to conduct credible elections
Justice Mbendera: MEC wants to conduct credible elections

He promised Malawians that the electoral body would implement all electoral programmes in an “honest, transparent and truthful manner”.

“We will take all reasonable measures to prevent willful wrong doing by commissioners and staff.

“We shall endeavour to ensure total compliance with all electoral laws and other relevant laws of the country. More importantly, the commission shall carry out its mandate with independence and impartiality,” he said adding that MEC was also expecting all stakeholders to comply with the various codes of conduct and electoral laws.

Mbendera told the gathering MEC would operate freely in its own best judgment without taking directives from or being controlled by any person or authority.

He said: “MEC shall at all times ensure that all electoral activities are open to public, judicial and governmental scrutiny. We undertake to be responsive to the views and concerns of all stakeholders. We will endeavour to meet and appraise stakeholders on major activities in the electoral cycle.”

The MEC chair then observed that elections were supposed to ensure democratic governance and facilitate peace and political stability.

He said democracy could not prevail and become sustainable if peace and political stability come under threat.

On electoral related conflicts, Mbendera said they were a great challenge to democratic elections and Africa’s diverse societies are often prone to conflicts which threaten their nation building and social harmony.

Electoral calendar

Mbendera said that the registration process which will start on July 22, and end on 4 January 2014, will be done in 10 phases across the country with each phase running for a period of 14 days irrespective of holidays with a 3 day transition period between the phases.

“On 28 June we expect to have a National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF) meeting where the Commission will discuss all issues to do with registration of voters,” he said.

He said in order to guarantee transparency and credibility of the process, every political party and candidate shall have the right to monitor each phase of the electoral process.

“They shall do so through designated representatives. The names of the representatives shall be notified to the Commission in writing specifying the registration or polling centres to which they are to be assigned.  In the absence of such notifications, it shall be presumed that they do not desire to monitor the process.

Mbendera said for the registration of voters, the commission has given political parties up to 9July 2013 to submit the names.

He said nominations of candidates for all the three elections will take place in February 2014.

“Nomination forms for those aspiring to stand as independent Parliamentary and Council candidates will be made available in all District Commissioners’ offices.  Those to contest under political party tickets will collect their forms from their political parties,” he said.

He said all presidential candidates will collect nomination forms from any of our three Regional Elections Offices.  The forms, he said will be available for collection from 9January 2014.

“The forms will be available early to give those interested ample time to satisfy the requirements for a successful nomination,” he explained.

Mbendera said at the time of presentation of nomination forms to the Returning Officer, every candidate shall be required to sign a copy of the Political Code of Conduct to which they will be required to strictly abide with in order to bring sanity during the campaign period which provides for the dos and don’ts of candidates in the course of conducting their campaign saying penalties will be imposed on those violating the code of conduct.

He disclosed the nomination fees are K1, 000,000.00 for the presidential candidates and it has pegged the fees for male parliamentary candidates at K200, 000 while the female parliamentary candidates to pay K150, 000.00.

Male Council Candidates will pay K20, 000.00 for Male candidate while the female fees are pegged at K15, 000.00.

The meeting brought together all stakeholders who matter in elections in Malawi such as political parties, civil society organizations, the media, government, traditional leaders, development partners and diplomats.

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