Emotionally charged participants to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) organised national electoral consultative forum have told parliament to set an exact date for the presidential election within the 150 days ordered by the Constitutional Court.
The high levelNational Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting in Mangochi on Wednesday, amid uncertainty on when exactly the poll would be held after M embattled MEC chairperson Jane Ansah gave two conflicting dates.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said: Following the Supreme Court’s clarification, we counted 8 days backwards from July 2, 2020 which is the 149th day from February 3, 2020 when the Constitutional Court made the ruling, and we ended up with June 23, 2020 as a tentative date for the election.”
Earlier, MEC said the poll would be held on July 2 but on Wednesday, Ansah changed tune, saying the poll would be held on June 23. She later said it was parliament which is mandated by law to set the date for an election.
People’s Party (PP) secretary general Ibrahim Matola accused MEC of confusing people by giving them different dates for the election.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said MEC was deliberately causing the confusion so as to delay the election so that President Peter Mutharika continues to cling to power.
The participants, however , agreed later that MEC needed expert advice on the matter.
They said parliament should reconvene as soon as possible to set the date for the poll and pass the other electoral laws to enable the smooth running of the Constitutional Court sanctioned presidential election.
While admitting that there was no “perfected, sealed and binding judgment” available, Ansah said the Commission was basing its proceedings on the orders contained in the May 08 Supreme Court judgment which she said would remain the same.
“The Supreme Court Judge said the judgment needs to be perfected in terms of spellings and grammatical errors and that it will be served within seven days,” Ansah observed.
“But we had our lawyers present in the Court who were taking notes which we are using,” she added and continued: “What you should know is that the orders in the judgment will remain the same and the date will remain May 8, 2020.”
But Sunduzwayo Madise, dean of law at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, sargues that the electoral body has powers to set the date for the fresh election in the same way it sets dates for by-elections for parliamentary and local government elections.
“MEC has powers to set dates just like they do with by-elections when a member of Parliament or ward councillor dies,” said Madise.
Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani-Hara ha said consultations with the President are in progress for the National Assembly to meet for this year’s budget session.–Additional reporting by Kondwani MagomboFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :