The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) will share the number ofMalawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners as they are the only parties represented in Parliament that qualify to submit names of candidates.
The two, out of seven parties that are represented in Parliament, meet the requirements for eligibility as per the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Act 2017.
The new Act provides that political parties which secure more than one tenth of the national vote in election to Parliament should submit a maximum of three names as their nominees for consideration as MEC commissioners.
Although this is the situation, the President still appoints the commissioners in proportion to the representation of the political parties that are in Parliament.
The other five political parties in Parliament who do not meet the threshold are UTM Party, United Democratic Front (UDF), People’s Party (PP), Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and Progressive People’s Movement (PPM).
The President wrote DPP and MCP to submit names for consideration as commissioners following the impending expiry of the current cohort’s tenure on June 5.
Mutharika has also written the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to nominate names of judges to be considered for the position of MEC chairperson.
Malawi electoral laws, apart from empowering JSC to nominate a judge to be appointed MEC chairperson, also empower JSC to nominate MEC commissioners, not being less than six, provided by the parties.
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College law professor Garton Kamchedzera said in an interview on Saturday that the minimum number of commissioners, as the law provides, is six, but this number can shoot depending on political parties that have qualified to make nominations.
MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said in an interview on Friday that his party had already submitted the three names to Mutharika.
He said: “Once we submit the names, that is it; so, three names have been submitted and effectively those will be our commissioners as per the current law.”
But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi asked for more time to consult.
Meanwhile, South Africa-based Malawian legal scholar Danwood Chirwa has said it is high time political parties nominated professional candidates that will be accepted by most Malawians.
“The commission has to include people who have served in MEC before and other men and women with integrity,” said Chirwa, a professor of law at University of Cape Town.
The country is scheduled to hold the court-ordered fresh presidential election within 150 days from February 3 2020.
Initially, the election was set for July 2 before a recent proposal to move it to June 23, which is yet to be confirmed.