Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is yet to decide a date for the postponed Lilongwe South Constituency by-election, drawing criticism from candidates who have accused the electoral body of making them spend more than planned.
The parliamentary hopefuls fear that voters may lose interest in the poll.
Speaking in separate interviews on Tuesday, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Peter Dimba and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) counterpart Peter Mazizi expressed concern, saying it is unfortunate that MEC has not given them an indication of its next move.
The two candidates said MEC promised to conduct the by-election by the end of November, but has not fulfilled the promise made during meetings that followed the postponement of the poll initially set for November 5.
Mazizi said the silence has created confusion as the candidates are not able to draw plans regarding meetings they need to conduct prior to the election date.
He said: “Our expectation was that by now we should have been given dates and we would have voted. Our fear is that voters will no longer have interest and it is difficult for us to plan our meetings.
“And as far as people are concerned, we are still shadow MPs. All of us are in a confused state because we continue losing resources… This issue must be closed.”
Dimba accused MEC of delaying to set the date for the by-election, saying this is denying constituents parliamentary representation.
He said: “It is now seven months without a representative in the House. Democracy has no meaning to us and development has stalled.
“People have nowhere to turn to. We feel victimised, tortured and completely ignored by MEC simply because we are a Lilongwe constituency. This is very unfair. Their political bias is so palpable.”
According to him, chiefs and all other political players pleaded with MEC to conduct polls by end of November before rains intensify.
In an interview yesterday, MEC director of media and communications SangwaniMwafulirwa acknowledged that the electoral body has not yet decided on the date for the poll despite having met all stakeholders who committed to peace during the election.
He said: “Stakeholders committed that MEC should reopen the process since they pledged to talk to their followers and supporters to maintain peace to ensure the process runs smoothly. The dates have not been set yet.”
Commenting on the issue, Malawi Electoral Support Network chairperson Steve Duwa said MEC did not involve its major electoral stakeholders on the issue.
MEC postponed Lilongwe South Constituency by-elections which were scheduled for November 5 due to political environment that ensued few days before the election.
Five people, namely Julius Chombwe of Mbakuwaku Movement, Dimba, Mazizi and independents PatsonKachingwe and Samson Phinifolo are vying for the seat.
Parliamentary elections in the constituency were deferred during the May 21 Tripartite Elections following the death of UTM Party candidate AgnessPenemulungu.