The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has U-turned on its earlier decision to allow presidential adviser on political and communication affairs Elias Wakuda Kamanga to contest as a member of Parliament (MP) in Kasungu North East Constituency in the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
This follows a second legal opinion MEC sought which stated that as a presidential adviser, Kamanga, and others are public servants; hence, can only be eligible to contest as MPs after resigning from their positions before presenting nomination papers to the commission.
MEC chief elections officer Willie Kalonga said yesterday Kamanga was informed about his disqualification on Wednesday evening. He said upon being informed about the decision, Kamanga produced a letter which indicated that he resigned from his position on February 4 and that secretary for Human Resource Management Sam Madula on February 7 accepted the resignation.
But despite his claimed resignation, Kamanga has continued to act as adviser to President Joyce Banda and has on several occasions, after February 4 2014, addressed the media and issued press releases in that capacity.
In an interview yesterday, Kalonga confirmed that MEC had applied a second legal opinion to disqualify Kamanga who, alongside other presidential aides—the Reverend Macdonald Sembereka and Reverend Malani Mtonga, were given the go-ahead by MEC to contest.
Sembereka is vying for the Mangochi Central Constituency seat while Mtonga is contesting in the Karonga South Constituency. The trio are seeking election on governing People’s Party (PP) ticket
Said Kalonga: “The letter from the secretary for Human Resource Management indicates that his resignation was accepted and he was asked to serve notice or pay government one month’s salary in lieu of notice. Now, as a commission, this issue will be referred to the commissioners for direction.”
Kalonga said MEC handles each case separately; hence, cannot give the status of Sembereka and Mtonga’s candidacy.
Yesterday, Kamanga said he was not aware about his disqualification which threatens to hamper his ambition to enter Parliament for the first time in his political career.
On March 6 this year, about a month after Kamanga’s purported resignation, The Nation carried a story in which MEC differed with an opinion by Mauya Msuku, a labour law lecturer at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba, that presidential advisers are public servants; hence, can only stand after resigning.
Ironically, in The Nation March 6 story, Kamanga did not mention his resignation. He said contracts for presidential advisers are different from others in the public service.
Msuku said Section 51 of the Constitution spoke of public service and not civil service which included presidential advisers.
He said in the broad sense, civil service was part of public service as it included those employed or appointed into government or government-affiliated institutions.
Msuku also told The Nation that in his opinion, leave of absence was not the same as termination of employment in the form of resignation as earlier argued in the case of former Chancellor College lecturer Jessie Kabwila who was also disqualified.
MEC, through its director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa, later disputed The Nation article, arguing that the legal opinion the commission sought advised that presidential aides or assistants are not public officers.