Political and traditional leaders in Karonga North West have expressed concern over Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) decision to hold by-elections in the area barely two months after the death of the area’s legislator James Bond Kamwambi.
Malawi Congress Party district chairperson Emmanuel Nkhoma raised the concern on Friday when MEC Commissioner Anthony Mkumbwa launched by-election activities at Maghemo Secondary School in the area.
Nkhoma said according to Ngonde culture, it is a taboo to conduct a by-election or hold any joyful activity during the mourning period, which ranges from six to 12 months, depending on the deceased’s social standing.
“Therefore, the message to hold by-elections in the area took us by surprise, but we are ready for the by-election,” he said.
Group village head Mweniyumba reiterated the concern yesterday when MEC engaged traditional leaders to mobilise their subjects to register and verify their names in the voters’ roll when the exercise begins today.
But Mkumbwa said by-elections are guided by the country’s laws which stipulate that they should take place within 60 days after the seat becomes vacant.
“If culture was the determining factor, the commission would have waited for the mourning period to be over, but by-elections are governed by law,” he said.
On his part, Paramount Chief Kyungu asked political parties to observe Covid-19 preventive measures during campaign.
MEC will conduct by-elections on March 30 in seven constituencies, namely Karonga North West, Ntchisi North East, Lilongwe Msinja South, Zomba Changalume, Nsanje Central, Nsanje North and Chikwawa East and Riviridzi Ward in Balaka and Chitakale Ward in Mulanje South.