Four political parties, including the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and four independent candidates, have collected nomination papers from the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to contest in the forthcoming July 2 fresh presidential election.
However, main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party, who signed an electoral alliance last month, have not yet collected their nomination papers.
In an interview yesterday, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the four political parties that have collected nomination papers are DPP, New Republican Party, New Vision for Democracy and Mbakuwaku Movement for Development. The four independent candidates include Ras Chikomeni Chirwa, Smart Swira, Henry Mdebwe and Phunziro Mvula.
He appealed to parties and individuals interested to contest in the fresh presidential election ordered by the Constitutional Court in February this year to collect nomination papers in time.
Said Mwafulirwa: “The process of filling and meeting the requirements is an elaborate one and it requires time. The commission is emphatic that it will not entertain any nomination paper with shortfalls and will not give any special consideration for anybody who fails to meet the criteria in time.”
Commenting on the matter, Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa observed that MCP and UTM Party’s delay to collect nomination papers is an indication that the two parties are still discussing to find out who will lead the alliance in the fresh presidential poll.
He said both parties have the time to collect the nomination papers.
Said Thindwa: “The absence of MCP and UTM Party in collecting nomination papers means that they have not yet reached an agreement, especially on who will be the torchbearer and who [will be] running mate. In my view, they don’t want to give their followers wrong signals.”
On the independent candidates, he said the four are not serious candidates and just want to get public attention.
On his part, University of Livingstonia political studies lecturer George Phiri said UTM Party and MCP’s delay to collect nomination papers shows that both parties lost trust in the commission and do not want it to run the fresh election.
He said the fact that the Judiciary and Legislature condemned the way MEC handled the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections means that majority Malawians no longer trust the current commissioners to manage the poll.
Phiri, however, echoed Thindwa’s sentiments that some of the independent candidates have collected nomination papers to attract public attention.
But MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said they are within the timeline MEC gave them.
He disputed Thindwa’s sentiments that the delay means that MCP and UTM are still discussing on who to lead the alliance.
Said Mkaka: “There is still time and we will collect nomination papers. There is no correlation [that MCP and UTM are still discussing]. MEC gave us a timeline and I think we are within those timelines. People shouldn’t read too much into the delay in collecting nomination forms.”
Efforts to speak to UTM Party spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga and secretary general Patricia Kaliati proved futile as their phones went unanswered despite several attempts.
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 ordered that a fresh election be held within 150 days from day of the judgement.
The High Court 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.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal is set to hear MEC’s appeal tomorrow.