President Lazarus Chakwera has met with Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe over the Malawi Electoral Commission’s (MEC) decision to suspend its operations, State House has confirmed.
Presidential press secretary Brian Banda said in a written response yesterday that the meeting took place on Wednesday.
He said: “HE met the Attorney General yesterday [Wednesday] and discussed the implications of MEC’s decision to suspend its operations.”
Banda could not be drawn to provide further details on the matter.
The meeting follows the dismissal of two MEC commissioners Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje which the AG and MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale said has left the electoral body crippled.
In a memo to Kachale dated April 14 2021 following the rescinding of the appointment of Kunje and Mathanga by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Silungwe said their dismissal has incapacitated the electoral body.
This comes against the background of Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Zanga Zanga Chikhosi’s disregard of the AG’s legal advice not to rescind appointments of the two commissioners.
Meanwhile, analysts have warned that differences that are emerging in the Tonse Alliance administration have the potential to destabilise the nine-party alliance from governing the country.
In August 2020, Silungwe, who was Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s lead lawyer in the presidential election nullification case, advised government to formally write appointment letters for the two commissioners.
He gave the advice following a request from OPC for legal advice on three issues, including the legality of the appointment of Mathanga and Kunje after the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament recommended their dismissal.
But Chikhosi, who was appointed by President Lazarus Chakwera as SPC, in a letter dated April 7 2021 rescinded appointments of the two.
In a telephone interview yesterday, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political analyst Blessings Chinsinga, said the recent developments in the alliance symbolises that governing a country is a complex process.
He said: “Most of the challenges are arising perhaps due to lack of a blueprint in running the country. So, there is need to have that blueprint. In the absence of it, you may have such challenges.”
Chinsinga said the current administration might be learning and it is incumbent upon the leadership to reflect on how they are performing in line with what they promised.
In a separate interview, political commentator Humphrey Mvula said the situation in the Tonse administration is a reflection of a bigger problem between the two main parties in the alliance—UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which is even visible in their followers.
He said if the current posturing is the same leading to the 2025 elections, there will not be stability in terms of governing as every party will want to advance its own interests through its office bearers.
Said Mvula: “What is happening in the Tonse Alliance administration simply shows that the leaders did not sit down to create a template on how to run the government. If the AG’s advice is not being
taken and the SPC comes in to do the contrary, it means he [Chikhosi] is doing what the President wants.”
On his part, governance expert Rafiq Hajat also said key to sealing the emerging cracks within the Tonse Alliance is for the unit to revisit the terms of references (ToRs) in their agreement.
“Their ToRs must be clear. If there is no clarity in their agreement, then the alliance may fall apart. What may happen is that they will part ways and one party will decide to go into opposition, creating a minority government. Right now Malawi does not need this,” he said.
Hajat, who is also executive director of the Institute for Policy Interaction, said the credibility and stability that Malawi gained in the aftermath of the historic June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election should be maintained up to the 2025 general elections.
Both Chakwera and Chilima have been elusive on the alliance’s terms of the agreement. They have also been mum on assertions that there are cracks within the alliance despite their supporters publicly insulting each other and praising their respective leaders, mostly on social media.