The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it will conduct by-elections in five constituencies on November 10 this year in line with the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (PPE) Act provisions.
MEC chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale, who is also a High Court judge, said atg the weekend that all five constituencies, which fell vacant due to the nullification of election results as well as resignation and deaths of legislators, shall be filled on the same date.
In his address, Kachale said all the processes in the by-elections will be done under strict observation of Covid-19 preventive measures.
He said: “No one will be accepted to be present at the centres without a face mask. Queuing shall be at two arms’ length and there will be hand-washing.”
The calendar the commission has come up with also indicates that nomination papers will be available for collection from the respective district commissioners’ offices on September 10 this year, and nomination of candidates will be done a month later on October 7 2020.
Asked to comment on how much resources tax payers will pump in electoral activities, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the electoral body will share information on the revised budget once it is finalised.
According to him, electoral activities will be fully financed by the government through Treasury.
The PPE Act compels MEC to conduct by-elections within 60 days after the constituency falls vacant. But the commission has delayed in holding the polls because, according to Mwafulirwa, circumstances did not allow it to start the process in good time.
He said: “We had a presidential elections cases that was conducted with a compressed calendar. The law allows for extension of the 60 days period if the circumstances do not allow for holding of by-elections at a particular time.”
The by-elections will be held in Mangochi West which fell vacant on December 20 2019; Mangochi North East which fell vacant on June 8 2020; and Phalombe North which fell vacant on June 22 2020—all after court nullification of the May 21 2019 election results.
Lilongwe North West fell vacant on May 8 2020 following the resignation of President Lazarus Chakwera prior to June 23 Fresh Presidential Election and later Karonga Central fell vacant on July 16 2020 following the death of legislator Cornelius Mwalwanda.