EC chairperson Anastasia Msosa confirmed that three names were sent to the President. She, however, conceded that this was not required by law.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is a matter of practice. Ordinarily in the past, we did not get any problem because after we told them [government], we proceeded to recruit. It was taken for granted that everything was in order. We have done that all the time. We have referred the name of a successful candidate to the President,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Msosa on Thursday.
Told that the reference is not stipulated in the Malawi Electoral Laws, Msosa admitted that the laws do not require the commission to refer names to OPC.
Asked if this was not illegal, she said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, it is not illegal, but we can say it is not a requirement by law.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The reference of the names to the President is against Malawi Electoral Laws Part V Section 12 where the appointment of the chief elections officer does not involve reference to the OPC.
Reads Section 12 (1): Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Commission shall appoint a suitably qualified person to be chief elections officer upon such written terms and conditions as the Commission may, in its discretion, determine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Section 12 (3) reads: Ã¢â‚¬Å“The chief elections officer shall be the chief executive officer of the Commission and, in the performance of his functions and duties, shall be responsible and answerable only to, and shall be under the direction, supervision and control of the Commission.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sources at EC said five people were interviewed for the position. The names are Willie Kalonga, Harris Potani, Sam Alufandika, Francis Mbilizi and Henzel Mukhondya.
The interviews were conducted last year and the results are not yet out.
Msosa confirmed the names and said three of them were sent to the President. Our source at EC said the names that were sent to the President were Kalonga, Potani and Alufandika. Msosa refused to confirm the names.
Said a senior officer at the EC: Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are not supposed to refer the names to the President. The President is an interested stakeholder in the elections.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Meanwhile, opposition United Democratic Front has condemned ECÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s action, arguing that this was the beginning of a rigging process.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are very disappointed that the Electoral Commission is conspiring with the President to rig the elections by giving him powers that he does not have. It is sad that at the time we are all crying for electoral reforms, EC is encouraging the President to bend the rules and appoint persons of his choice to manage elections,Ã¢â‚¬Â said UDFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s deputy publicity secretary Ken Ndanga.
He further said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“We protest the decision and ask the EC chair to reverse that forthwith. The electoral act is very clear on this matter. The CEO is appointed by the Commission.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The incoming chief elections officer will handle the 2014 elections.