MESN pushes for shifting of by-elections date

The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) has made a strong appeal to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to shift the date for the by-elections and revise the calendar for the by-elections to give ample time for the preparations.

Steven Duwa: Head of MESN says by-elections date should change
Steven Duwa: Head of MESN says by-elections date should change

The appeal comes a day after the Commission announced the postponement of the voter registration and verification exercise for the local government by-elections slated forJune 23, due to lack of funding.

MESN chair Steve Duwa says in a statement issued Saturday that the organization understands that MEC submitted a budget for the by-elections to government through the Ministry of Finance and started preparations for holding the by-elections upon assurance by the government that funding would be available to conduct the by-elections in the current financial year.

“However, to date no funds have been advanced to the Malawi Electoral Commission, a development that has forced the Commission to postpone launch meetings which were supposed to take place in the wards on April, 29, 2015.

“The Commission has also failed to conduct recruitment of polling and training of staff ahead of the registration and voter verification exercise which was supposed to commence on Friday, May 8, 2015.Worse still the Commission has postponed the voter registration and verification exercises which were supposed to run from Friday May 8 to Tuesday”

Duwa says MESN would like to strongly express its concern with this uncertainty because it largely undermines the importance of local government structures in the consolidation of democracy in the country.

“The uncertainty of the calendar has also potential effect of affecting preparations and the participation of other stakeholders which can greatly compromise the quality of the elections,” he said.

MESN is one of the institutions that advocated for the holding of local government elections in 2014 and is appealing to all involved stakeholders to ensure that the preparations for the by-elections are given proper attention that will not portray them as an inferior kind of election.

He says the current situation whereby the Ministry of Finance is determining when elections can be held in the country by not releasing funding for elections, greatly compromises the independence of the Commission and is tantamount to usurping the powers of the Commission.

“MESN thinks the independence of the Commission can be guarded if a protected funding scheme is set up. MEC should not be going to the Ministry of Finance to beg for money that has already been appropriated by Parliament. We are therefore appealing to the Commission to shift the date for the by-elections to provide ample time for the preparations,” said Duwa.

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