Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is seeking judicial review on the appointment of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioners Arthur Nanthulu, Steve Duwa, Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga and in a matter filed at Lilongwe registry of the High Court, the party has put State President , the position currently held by Lazarus Chakwera, as defendant in the matter.
However, the four commissioners were appointed in June 2020 by former president Peter Mutharika – Chakwera’s predecessor.
Kunje and Mathanga were part of the MEC Commissioners who administered the May 21 2019 Presidential Election that was nullified by five judges of the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court in Lilongwe.
MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka in the judicial review application filed by lawyer Abison Chitukula, he is claiming that the former president Mutharika axed the party’s nominee to accommodate four Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)- sponsored individuals in MEC.
The application argues that MCP commissioner were supposed to be three, according to the law, but only two – Anthony Mukumbwa and Olivia Liwewe – had been appointed.
MCP cites Section 4 of the amended Electoral Commission Act of 2017 which empowers parties that obtain one-tenth of the parliamentary seats submit to the President a minimum of three nominees.
“As a qualifying political party, especially where only two political parties qualified, MCP was entitled to have all three nominees appointed, but instead the defendant (the President) appointed only two of MCP’s nominees without any reason given for rejecting the other nominee and , in contrast, appointed four for the DPP,” the application reads in part.
Mkaka argues that the MEC commissioners were not appointed in accordance with the law.
Lawyer Chitukula said Chakwera is being taken to court because “MCP is suing the President of the Republic of Malawi.”
He said: “The court will determine the question of legality, or otherwise, of the appointment of the members of the commission.”
MCP is asking the High Court, among others, to give orders that the President should appoint new commissioners and declare that the appointment of the four commissioners from DPP was illegal.
In August 2020, Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe advised Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Zangazanga Chikhosi that government would opt to be bound by the appointment of the reconstituted commission because “this is neater and mature political pragmatism”.
On whether there was any other legal remedy in dealing with the matter, the AG advised the SPC the legal remedy of judicial review was available.
However, in light of the changes in the presidency, Silungwe argued that Chakwera would be both a claimant and respondent as the incumbent President.
But MCP’s lawyer Chitukula said Chakwera can no longer be the claimant in the matter.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :