Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale yesterday led his team of commissioners to Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where they updated President Lazarus Chakwera on their assignments, including the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Kachale—who alongside six commissioners were appointed on June 7 by Chakwera’s predecessor Peter Mutharika—said one of the biggest assignments highlighted in the report was the election that ushered in Chakwera.
The fresh election followed the nullification of the May 21 2019 presidential election by a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court on February 3 this year.
Kachale, who was widely hailed for conducting an election within the shortest period possible, mentioned delayed disbursement of funding and a tight work schedule as some of the challenges encountered.
He said: “During the meeting, we indicated all those challenges and also indicated that in spite of the challenges, we were able to deliver.”
Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi appointed to fill the gap after the resignation of then embattled MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, said it is the President’s prerogative to raise any issues he may find in the report.
He said the commission will now proceed to prepare and conduct by-elections in five constituencies and undertake ward demarcations.
Vacancies in three of the five constituencies—Mangochi West, Mangochi North East and Phalombe North—followed the court’s nullification of the May 21 2029 parliamentary elections following petitions claiming irregularities. Karonga Central, on the other hand, fell vacant following the death of its legislator Cornelius Mwalwanda while Lilongwe North West became vacant after Chakwera resigned to contest for the presidency.
Commenting on the ward demarcation exercise, Kachale said the exercise will be conducted nationwide and will involve extensive consultations.
Besides Kachale, other MEC commissioners are Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje retained from the previous commission, Arthur Nanthuru, Steven Duwa, Anthony Mukumbwa and Olivia Liwewe.
MEC is yet to set the date for the by-elections with the electoral body’s spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa indicating that they were consulting following new guidelines aimed at curbing fthe urther spread of the coronavirus.