Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has asked President Peter Mutharika and political parties involved in the nomination and appointment of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners to incorporate a variety of expertise.
Mesn board chairperson Steve Duwa made the remarks in Blantyre on Wednesday during the launch of the network’s advocacy strategy agenda which advocates for non-legislative electoral reform recommendations while the Malawi Law Commission works on the general electoral reforms.
He said it is important for political parties to not only consider nominating party loyalists or figure heads, but people conversant with issues of electoral management, administration and finance. He said the trend of nominating party loyalists threatens to cripple the commission.
Said Duwa: “This is in line with the current recommendation by the national task force on electoral reforms that we need a commission which has got expertise in the sense that we need to have people within the commission that understands the electoral process, we need to have in the commission people that understand issues of finance, auditing and administration.”
Other issues Duwa said should be considered when nominating commissioners include gender inclusiveness, commissioners should be fulltime and a lean commission with a maximum of seven commissioners, including the chairperson.
The tenure of office for current commissioners will expire on May 18 2016.
Early this year when MEC commissioners called on the President to brief him on some electoral developments since the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, he rebuked them over reports of financial mismanagement saying the organisation cannot afford denting its credibility in any way.
Mutharika urged MEC to address and resolve all the accusations and other negative issues in a transparent manner so that people do not harbour any doubt about the commissioners’ credibility.
Several months ago, media reports quoted an audit report by the Central Internal Audit Unit as exposing fraud by MEC staff and some commissioners through, among others, dubious claims of field allowances for trips not undertaken. n