The holding of the Constitutional Court sanctioned presidential election will be pushed beyond the July 3 deadline on technical shortfalls, Nyasa Times understands as government is set to present four electoral related bills on Wednesday .
The court ruled in February that the May 2019 polls were deeply flawed, due to bias, lack of a majority vote, and incompetence by Malawi Electoral Commisison (MEC). That ruling was challenged by President Peter Mutharika and the electoral body and the Supreme Court in April ruled that the vote was to be redone not beyond July 3.
Leader of House Kondwani Nankhumwa said President Peter Mutharika is keen to having the fresh polls and has made appointment of the new MEC Commissioners to ensure they manage the polls
He said government will be circulating the electoral bills to legislators on Tuesday and on Wednesday the House will be debating the them and probably have them passed.
“That smacks of the quality of the President which we have; that smacks of the willingness of this government to make sure that we have elections in the country and we need the elections now not tomorrow that’s what we’re doing,” assured Nankhumwa.
He described the concerns from the opposition that government is not so keen on the bills as fear of the unknown as all long they have been ready with them.
Nankhumwa stressed that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front Alliance (UDF) alliance also needed the elections to happen as soon as possible only that they are only following the procedures.
The vote rerun requires new funds, and it is not evident where this money will come from.
MEC said the whole election budget is pegged at K34 billion.
European Union (EU) pulled out its K6 billion funding towards the election, citing it has diverted its funds towards the covid-19 fight and also said the fresh presidential election is illegitimate as parliament is yet to pass relevant electoral laws for the holding of the fresh election.
EU also indicated that it will not send its observer team because of the coronavirus fears.
The traditional benefactor United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said it does not fund elections but provides technical expertise only.
The commission had a funding deficit of K8 billion to successfully manage the fresh poll following the pulling out of UNDP’s support due to alleged lack of a legal framework to run the polls and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Economist Betchani Tcheleni from The Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), observed that an K8 billion deficit will make things difficult for the country to run the election “effectively.”
Tcheleni, however, noted lack of enough resources to hold fresh polls might result in challenges including irregularities.
“So we need enough resources to effectively manage the polls and ensure nobody finds a scapegoat that the irregularities occurred due to insufficient funding,”
MEC pegged the fresh elections at K43.7 billion but Parliament during the 2019/20 Mid-Year Budget Review only approved about K29.1 billion for the activity.
During the May 2019 Tripartite Elections, government spent about K44 billion to organise the disputed event that involved seven presidential candidates, 1 331 parliamentary candidates, 2 615 local government aspirants and about 6 859 570 voters in 193 parliamentary constituencies and 462 local government wards across the country.
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