The High Court in Blantyre has ordered the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to allow Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) lecturer Matthews Ngwale to stand as parliamentary candidate for the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Chiradzulu West Constituency because employees of the University of Malawi (Unima) are not public servants.
In his ruling delivered on Monday afternoon, High Court Judge Mike Tembo said the definition of public office as contained in Section 51(2) (e) of the Constitution was limited to public office in the civil service as decided by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of Fred Nseula (deceased) versus Attorney General (1999) MLR 313 (MSC).
The judge said in this regard, Ngwale was, therefore, not required to resign from his employment with Unima before presenting his nomination papers to the MEC.
Ruled Tembo: “The Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC] was not justified in its grounds for rejecting the respondent’s [Ngwale’s] nomination as parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming Tripartite Elections.
“This court subsequently directs MEC to accept the respondent’s nomination as parliamentary candidate for the UDF for Chiradzulu West Constituency. The acceptance should be done within three days.”
Besides Ngwale, MEC earlier rejected or disqualified two other Unima academic staff, Professor John Chisi and Jessie Kabwila, on the basis that employees of Unima, one of the country’s four public universities, are public servants.
Chisi sought to lead Umodzi Party in the presidential race whereas Kabwila wanted to represent Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in Salima North West Constituency as a parliamentary candidate.
Two weeks ago, during the opening of an electoral workshop for judges and magistrates, MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera, who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, lamented that pending court cases between hopefuls and the commission were likely to affect the electoral calendar, including processes such as printing of ballot papers.