Governing Democratic Progresssive Party (DPP) cadres and its alliance partners United Democratic Front (UDF) have taken up in social media platforms to hail the government for decision to suspend the voter registration exercise for the July 2 fresh presidential election in the wake of the increased coronavirus patients in the country while opposition and law experts are cautions in their comments.
The country recorded its first coronavirus death on Tuesday, a 60-year-old woman in Blantyre and the cases rose from five to eight within hours.
UDF president, who is also minister of Energy Atupele Muluzi also asked for electoral stakeholders to rethibk their position of going ahead with elections on July 2 amidst virus outbreak.
“In my humble view as president of the UDF, maybe it is time to have one common position on the fresg elections and Covid-19 by all political [parties],” Muluzi wrote in his Facebook page.
Mac Tembo, a DPP zealot also said lives of people were more important than the election.
But law experts say MEC will have to seek permission and clearance from the courts to postpone the election.
Lilongwe-based legal expert Justice Dzonzi said the fresh elections are not the normal polls but court sanction vote, therefore, Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 have no legal mandate to “disrupt the electoral process” such as cancelling voter registrations.
He said the ideal situation would have been government persuading Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to summon a National Electoral Consultative Forum (Necof) for electoral stakeholders to deliberate on the idea and inform the court.
Dean of law at Chancellor College, Dr Dingiswayo Madise, also queried the Cabinet committee’s legal authority to suspend registration of voters.
”Does this committee have the power to suspend the registration exercise? Under what legal authority?
“The decision to suspend the voting registration exercise is reasonable in the circumstances of the Covid 19 pandemnic, even welcome.
However, in my view, the wrong institution has made the’order,’ considering further that the fresh election is court-sanction with specific ancillary orders,” said Madise.
Madise said the electoral body should have made that decision.
“Even in times of pandemic, the rule of law must prevail,” said Madise.
Opposition members were also cautions in their comments, saying government has rushed to make such a decision.
In a phone-in radio programme on Times, ‘Professor’ Muhamad Abutrika told host Brian Banda on Tuesday that government is “tactically running away from holding the fresh elections.”
Three coronavirus cases have been detected in the past hours, two in Blantyre and one in Chikhwawa, bringing the number of the cases to eight in the country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :