With a cloud of suspicion hovering around MEC, coupled with loss of public confidence, the new chairperson for the electoral body Justice Chifundo Kachale says they are ready to deliver a credible election, further appealing to the public to forget about “what happened in the past”.
Kachale was speaking at a press briefing in Lilongwe on Saturday—the first one after being appointed on June 7 2020.
Flanked by fellow commissioners, including two—Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje—who were in the old commission that was declared incompetent by both the court and the Public Appointments Committee (PAC), Kachale said he was confident that with this team he will deliver a credible election, adding that people must not read too much into what happened in the past.
“I have confidence in my six friends. Whether people will trust us or not but we are ready to deliver as expected,” said the High Court Judge who has replaced Justice of Appeal Jane Ansah – who was the source of multiple protests in the country following the nullified 2019 presidential election.
On state of preparedness, Kachale said the commission was at about 65 percent and it is working around the clock to ensure the smooth running of the polls.
He said, currently, printing of ballot papers is underway as the printer was advised to start doing so by June 11 2020 and the consignment will be in the country by June 19—four days before polling.
Kachale also said apart from facing a deficit of about K8 billion, delayed disbursement of funding is another challenge which is affecting some of the activities. He cited, as an example, the training of presiding officers which was to start by June 8, but only commenced on Saturday as a case of the implication of delayed funding.
Asked if the delay in funding was a ploy to frustrate the electoral process, Kachale said they do not think this was done in bad faith. He pleaded with Malawians to avoid suspicion and give the new commission a benefit of doubt. He said they have been meeting with candidates in the fresh poll to appraise them on the state of preparedness.
On whether the commission was preparing for a run-off in view of the 50 percent plus 1 arrangement, commissioner Arthur Nanthulu, a legal mind himself said they would wait for direction from Parliament.
During presentation of the 2020/21 National Budget in Lilongwe on Friday, Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamveka said donors are not forth-coming to support the elections budget pegged at K29 billion. But MEC’s budget, according to Kachale is about K38 billion, a figure which has risen on account of procuring some materials on account of covid-19.