Malawi electoral Commission (MEC) says it is considering to change procedures in the nomination process for presidential candidates to, among others, ensure that aspirants pay the nomination fee
on collection of forms. MEC chairperson Jane Ansah expressed the sentiment in her speech during the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting in Mangochi on Wednesday.
She said the electoral body wants to make the changes to enhance credibility and seriousness of the process. Currently, candidates collect the forms without making a payment and are required to submit the same with a K2 million nomination fee deposit slip and 10 signatures of registered voters from each of the 28 districts, among other requirements.
However, the process has in recent years seen some “pretenders” making it to the high-profile event only to be disqualified. Reacting to the MEC proposal, Ernest Thindwa, a political science lecturer at Chancellor College (Chanco)—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said in an interview it is high time
MEC changed the process. He said changing the nomination procedure and making it mandatory for candidates to pay the nomination fee on collection of forms will sieve “immature and
non-serious candidates” from the event. Said Thindwa: “That would do us a great service and not what we see when candidates are publicly presenting their nomination papers where we would see immature nominations.” He also suggested that MEC should scrutinise nomination papers of candidates in private prior to receiving them in public. In a separate telephone interview, political analyst Mustapha Hussein, who also teaches at Chanco, described the proposal as one that would also minimise wasting resources. In her address, Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said there is need for the proposed change to be put in place as the current law does not allow the electoral body to bar a candidate.
But Garton Kamchedzera, a professor of law at Chanco, argued that the current commission has no basis to suggest reforms in the electoral system. He said: “This commission has, to me, no legal, technical or moral basis to point out faults and suggest reforms in Malawi’s electoral system.” During the submission of presidential nomination papers in February 2019 for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and last week for the July 2 fresh presidential election, some independent candidates were turned back after failing to show proof of depositing the required fee and acquiring the prescribed signatures, among other shortfall