The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said it will hold a fresh presidential election on July 2 2020, a day before expiry of the 150 days ordered by the Constitutional Court on February 3.
MEC chairperson Jane Ansah made the announcement on Monday in Blantyre at a press briefing attended by all commissioners.
Ansah, a Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge, told journalists that the electoral body has done its groundwork and is ready to hold the election on July 2.
She said the budget for the fresh presidential poll has been pegged at K34 billion.
Said Ansah: “Please note that 2nd July 2020 is the 149th day from 3rd February 2020. MEC shall register those that have turned 18, or will attain voting age by 7 June 2020 or never registered as voters during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the three by- elections held thereafter.
“All voters who registered during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the three by-elections held thereafter, need to go and confirm if their names appear in the register for their respective centres. All people that lost their voter certificates can go and get duplicate certificates at the centres they registered last time during the time of voter registration.”
Commenting on why the commission sidelined key stakeholders, notably political parties during the press briefing that also marked the launch of the election’s calendar, MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika said due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus which is fast spreading across the globe and President Peter Mutharika’s directive restraining gatherings of more than 100 people, the commission thought it wise to only invite the media.
Ansah also said the commission will hold other meetings with Centre for Multiparty Democracy whose members are leaders from different political parties, but could not state the actual dates of the proposed meetings.
She then indicated that candidates aspiring to contest in the fresh presidential election will pay a nomination fee of K2 million and the commission is expected to receive nomination papers on April 23 and 24 2020 in Blantyre.
Said Ansah: “This, we believe will give ample time for aspirants to satisfy the requirements for a successful nomination.”
She said that the commission shall open the official campaign period on May 2 2020 which will close on June 30 2020, two days before the polls.
Asked how the commission intends to restore confidence of political parties and what lessons it has learnt from the May 212019 Tripartite Elections, Ansah said the electoral body will correct the shortfalls that the court found such as the use of constituency tally centres.
She said: “The commission has learnt a lot of lessons from the previous elections, especially the 2019 elections.
“No matter how reasonable it is, no matter what the stakeholders are saying, we must just go by the law because where we were faulted, the stakeholders brought in the use of constituency tally centres. They gave reasons, we put our heads together and we saw that indeed it was good. But they have now started throwing stones at us.”
The five-judge panel comprising Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo and Dingiswayo Madise on February 3 this year, nullified the presidential election in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and directed that a fresh election be held within 150 days.
The panel sitting as a Constitutional Court said MEC failed in all constitutional tests it set out on the elections and that the irregularities were so glaring that the credibility of the election was in question.
Two of the presidential candidates in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima (first petitioner) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, asked the court to nullify presidential election results over alleged irregularities, . Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was the first respondent with MEC as the second respondent.