Despite the May 21 2019 electoral dispute raging on, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has started preparations for by-elections scheduled to take place on November 5 2019 in Lilongwe and Kasungu.
MEC has since began the first phase of receiving names of monitors proposed by aspiring candidates, civil society organisations (CSOs) and political parties that will contest in Lilongwe South Constituency and Matenje Ward in Kasungu North West.
Elections did not take place in Lilongwe South following the death of UTM Party candidate Agnes Penemulungu.
MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika said in a statement released on Sunday that the commission will accept only literate monitors with good numeracy and comprehension skills.
The electoral body has since set October 8 this year as the deadline for receiving proposed names of monitors to be included in MEC records for the exercise.
But the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has consistently said Ansah and her team lost credibility and competency to hold any election, considering the irregularities registered on their watch during the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence and member McDonald Sembereka faulted MEC for proceeding with plans to hold by-elections when there are still calls that Ansah and her team should resign for allegedly mishandling the May 21 elections.
Sembereka said: “We have heard that they are planning to hold by elections in Lilongwe. What we want to know is that which commission will manage these polls? We do not have trust in the commissioners. They should just resign so that we should have a new commission.”
On his part, Trapence argued that by going ahead with the by-elections despite resignation calls, the commission is taking Malawians for granted.
Since the May 21 elections results were announced, HRDC has been organising a series of demonstrations to force Ansah to step down. But for four months now their efforts have proved futile.
MEC director of media and public relations SangwaniMwafulirwa is on record as having said the electoral body would not conduct by elections yet because of volatile political situation.
The Presidential and Parliamentary (PPE) Act gives MEC powers to conduct by-elections within 90 days from the date on which the constituency or ward fell vacant by any circumstance.
In an earlier interview, while casting doubt on whether voters will trust the commission, University of Livingstonia (Unilia) political commentator George Phiri said if MEC conducted the by-election, voters would accept the results if the process is transparent.
According to the statement Alfandika issued on Sunday, the electoral body will accept two monitors from each party and aspiring candidates to ensure a transparent process.