resident Peter Mutharika continues to plant his allies in strategic positions in readiness for 2019 Tripartite Elections with an appointment of current State-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Chairperson Moffat Banda as one of new Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners.
The move has raised eyebrows among opposition political parties, with the former ruling Peoples Party (PP) questioning the credibility of appointing Banda to serve the two critical institutions at same time.
On Monday, Mutharika appointed new MEC commissioners with Evelyn Mtafu as only survivor out of the previous commissioners whose term of office expired last month.
Mutharika made the appointments in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by Section 4 (1) of the Electoral Commission Act Chapter 2:03 of the Laws of Malawi.
The new commissioners include Mulhako wa Alhomwe’s influential member Jean Mathanga who is also a ruling DPP member, former Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) deputy governor Mary Nkosi ,former Livingstonia Synod moderator and current Ekwendeni Mission Hospital principal administrator the Reverend Clifford Baloyi and the Reverend Killion Mgawi, who has served Nkhoma Synod as a minister for 53 years besides being its first general secretary.
Others are former diplomat Yahaya M’madi of United Democratic Front (UDF) and Linda Kunje of Peoples Party.
In an interview on Tuesday, PP Publicity Secretary Ken Msonda while commending Mutharika for appointing new commissioners described Banda’s appointment as illegal.
“The appointment of Mr. Moffat Banda is illegal, his appointment compromises the impartiality of MBC,” argued Msonda.
Msonda further argued that Banda’s appointment is a conflict of interest as both MBC and MEC play critical role during elections.
He then questioned the composition of the commissioners; pointing out that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its ally United Democratic Front (UDF) have more than other political parties.
“We are concerned with the composition of the newly appointed commissioners, it raises eyebrows. If you closely look at the composition DPP has four commissioners, UDF has two whilst PP and MCP have one each”.
According to the legal provisions, the major political parties represented in Parliament are required to submit four nominees from which the President can appoint two.
“The law has not been considered. It is a worrisome anomaly, a development that needs to be addressed before things get off-hand. We are also not surprised with Commissioner Mrs. E. Mtafu being returned.
“She comes from Mulanje (she is a Lhomwe) besides she was the only commissioner out of 13 commissioners who refused to sign a communiqué that was written by the out-going commissioners during the 2014 Tripartite Elections which stated that the elections were not free, fair or credible and that there was need to rerun or recount votes”.
Msonda insinuated that Mtafu has been retained as a reward for siding with DPP during the controversial 2014 Tripartite Elections.
On the other hand Msonda praised Mutharika for having new MEC commissioners in place.
“We commend the state President for finally appointing new MEC commissioners after several reminders, but the move is commendable; better late than never. We also applaud the President for coming up with a lean Commission of only eight commissioners looking at the financial challenges that have rocked the Electoral Commission”.
MEC and other stakeholders have time and again criticized MBC for being bias towards ruling parties during elections and the appointment of Banda will surely raise more questions of how credible the institution handle itself in the coming elections.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :