Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo on Monday presided over the swearing in of new Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioners at the High Court in the commercial capital, Blantyre, calling on them to exercise total independence and diligence to duty.
“Most of you are senior citizens; you have previously held important public offices and that it would therefore not be difficult to perform the functions and responsibilities of the MEC Commissioner,” observed the Chief Justice.
He added that as per their oath, the Commissioners will have to adhere to the Republican Constitution and really “do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the country without fear or favour.”
Reverend Allan Chiphiko of the Nkhoma Synod was the first to take his oath of office and allegiance followed by emeritus Bishop Bernard Malango of Anglican Church. Reverend Mezuwa Banda of the Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP was third and he was followed by Dr. Bertha Simwaka, Malawi Congress Party (MCP); former United Democratic Front (UDF) Mulanje Bale MP, Elvy Mtafu followed; and then came Dr. Wellington Nakanga.
The governing People’s Party (PP) executives Reverend Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri, Gloria Chingota and former Maravi People’s Part member Stanley Biliati followed, respectively.
On May 19, President Joyce Banda appointed the 10 commissioners after consulting political parties to nominate candidates to be considered for appointment as MEC Commissioners.
“I am grateful for being recommended and considered for the job; I will perform my duties to the best of my knowledge and ability,” said Reverend Chimkwita Phiri after the ceremony.
Reverend Chimkwita Phiri, who also served as a MEC Commissioner between 2003 and 2007, noted that MEC is the highest electoral body and that it must be the ultimate guarantor of free, fair and transparent national elections.
He said the independence of MEC from interference by government and political parties must therefore be upheld and that he was optimistic that the new Joyce Banda administration would adopt “this important democratic path.”
Malawi’s Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections are scheduled for May 2014. A bill to regularize the holding of tripartite elections is still before Parliament.