The newly-appointed Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson High Court judge Dr Chifundo Kachale have vowed to safeguard public interest and exercise professional independence after being sworn in together with six commissioners at a ceremony that took place at the Supreme Court in Blantyre after his appointment with a new team.
Presiding over the ceremony, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda advised the new MEC chairperson and his team to safeguard the will of the people.
Nyirenda said as a nation, Malawians seek to be informed on credible electoral processes and that credibility starts with the personal credibility of the MEC chairperson and ultimately the collective credibility of the commission.
He said the oaths that MEC commissioners took required credibility, integrity and trustworthiness.
“You will be expected to manage your personal zeal and embrace common good. On elections, we chose the path of democracy, elections are essential to that process, they can make and unmake a nation,” he said.
Nyirenda said Kachale and other six commissioner will no doubt wield vast powers over elections.
“These vast powers can be used or abused, but you must always be personally reminded that your loyalty is to the Constitution, the State and the public interest; never to a specific individual,” he said.
The Chief Justice said the oath is a promise to Malawians that they can be trusted in the process of managing the elections.
“Safeguard the political will and choice of our people,” he said.
Nyirenda added: “We are a nation that seeks to be founded on credible electoral process which starts with your personal and ultimately the collective of the commission.”
He also urged the Commissioners to ensure that the grasp the electoral laws.
“Read these documents [the Constitution and electoral laws] and be familiar with them, in that way you’ll be well informed about your role.”
Kachale pledged to uphold the Constitution in conducting his duties without fear and favour.
He said the new MEC team is planning to meet on Wednesday with the management to be briefed on the state of preparedness of the fresh presidential elections slated for June 23.
“Thereafter, we will brief the media within the next two days as to what do we have to execute the plans that have been committed to us as a new electoral commission,” explained said Kachale, who has a strong academic legal background, a PhD from the University of London School of African Studies (SOAS), and he has written on judicial activism and inactivism.
President Peter Mutharika has been forced to appoint a new chairman of MEC after his predecessor Jane Ansah, a Supreme Court of Appeals judge was declared incompetent by both the Constitutional and Appeals Court.
Malawi will go to the polls on June 23, a week earlier than initially ordered by the courts, which annulled President Mutharika’s narrow election victory last year due to irregularities.
The Constitutional Court ruled on Feb. 3 that a fresh presidential election be held within 150 days after citing “widespread, systematic and grave” irregularities when it annulled the vote that returned Mutharika to power.
The initial date was July 2.
But opposition members of Parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution setting the June 23 date, to the surprise of the government side which had hoped for a vote through Constitutional amendments.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :