UDF, Petra call for caution over JB’s U-turn on Kachali’s EC role

Malawi’s opposition United Democratic Front  (UDF) and  People’s Transformation (Petra) are calling upon Malawians and other electoral stakeholders to be cautious with President Joyce Banda’s (JB) change of heart on the appointment of her vice president Khumbo Kachali as an overseer of Malawi Electoral Commission.

The call from  UDF spokesman Ken Ndanga and Petra’s president Kamuzu Chibambo comes after President Banda rescinded the decision she made during her first cabinet reshuffle since he attained the high office on April 7.

She has apparently succumbed to pressure from all corners of the society including donor partners who viewed the appointment as a ploy of the ruling People’s Party to rig the 2014 elections – an allegationPresident Banda had repeatedly denied.

Reacting to the JB’s change of tune,  UDF spokesman said: “The reversal as much as it sounds good, it does not reflect well on the leadership we have, failure to make a right decision on a straight forward issue.

Kamuzu Chibambo: PETRA president

“It appears President Banda has very little time in the office to scrutinise issues. This is embarassing.”

Petra president Chibambo who earlier issued a statement in which he strongly condemned Kachali’s EC role, told Nyasa Times  Wednesday night that while it is appreciated that President Banda has realized the blunder she made, there is need for Malawians of good will not to take the issue lying down.

“We need to take this reverse of the decision with extra care and keep the government in check all the time for possible abuse on the role of Electoral Commission,” said Chibambo

He reiterated that the appointment of Kachali was suspicious and it was something that people would not afford to compromise as it compromised the independence of the electoral body.

Chibambo said if Kachali’s appointment was allowed to go, it would have led to surprise like what happened prior to 2009 elections where nominations fees for the aspirants were almost quadrupled a move which was believed aimed at barring some candidates from contesting the polls.

The new British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin was quoted in local media saying while there is need to have a “docking point” for the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) within the administration, the independence of the elections body is of paramount importance.

“The independence of the Mec is vital as is the perception of a credible election,” he  said.

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