Malawi leader makes U-tun on Kachali’s EC overseer job

President Joyce Banda has rescinded her decision to appoint  Vice-President, Khumbo Kachali as overseer of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) following growing protests from several quarters, including opposition parties, lawyers and the electoral organization itself.

In her first cabinet shake-up since assuming office in April, President Banda removed Vice President Kachali as Health minister but placed a number of institutions, including MEC, under his office.

The critics feared that with the Vice President as minister in charge of MEC,  the independence of the elections body will be greatly compromised.

Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu confirmed to Nyasa Times on Tuesday that Kachali is no longer responsible for  MEC.

Kachali: Stripped of EC job

Kunkuyu said President Banda “is the first to insist upon the independence, neutrality, and non-partisanship of the Electoral Commission, in order for the Commission to deliver for our nation free, fair and credible elections.”

“Further, Her Excellency the President is the first to acknowledge that free, fair and credible elections are the foundation of our democracy and a very critical ingredient for peace and stability in our nation,” said Kunkuyu.

The government spokesman said the undermining of the Electoral Commission’s independence, neutrality and non-partisanship by any person, is the last thing President Banda would tolerate.

Government however insisted President Banda did nothing wrong according to law to assign the Vice President the overseer role at the electoral body, saying she  was not assigning to the Vice President a function different from the one specified in the law.

“As must be clear to everyone, the President cannot give to anyone powers that she herself does not possess,” Kunkuyu said.

Kunkuyu said the President rescinded the appointment as response to concerns raised by various stakeholders who include lawyers and civil society groupings. British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin was also quoted in the press saying  “independence of the MEC is vital as is the perception of a credible election.”

President Banda nonetheless believes Kachali “would have discharged the role delegated to him in a manner consistent with the law.”

According to Kunkuyu, President Banda “is of the opinion that the greater national good will be better served by allaying the concerns, fears and anxieties expressed by various Malawians and stakeholders.”

Kunkuyu said  the President has directed that the Presidential role provided for in Section 6 of the Electoral Commission Act shall no longer be exercised by Vice President.

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