The Electoral Commission (EC) secretariat says it is yet to decide on the date to hold the by-election in the constituency due to absence of commissioners, who have not yet been appointed following expiry of terms for the previous group.
The delay has irked some political parties, some of whom have pointed fingers at President Bingu wa Mutharika as being responsible for the technicality, an accusation presidential spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba has described as unfair.
Mzimba Central Constituency fell vacant last Christmas Eve following the death of its MP Professor Donton Mkandawire.
Legally, by-elections are expected to be held not more than 60 days after a seat becomes vacant.
EC chairperson, who is also Supreme Court of Appeal Judge, Anastasia Msosa on Sunday said the issue has not been raised at the commission owing to the absence of commissioners, whose terms of office expired.
She could, however, not comment further because she was outside the country; hence, did not have latest developments.
The commissionersâ€™ contracts expired on January 18 2012, except that of Msosa, which runs up to this September.
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) chairperson of the committee on elections and campaign Dan Msowoya said government is to blame because it is not appointing commissioners.
â€˜Bingu is living above the lawâ€™
Msowoya argued the President â€œis living like he is above the law by ignoring such issues and his failure to appoint EC commissioners.â€
Said Msowoya: “Mzimba Central Constituency people have a right, not a privilege, to be represented and no matter what happens, government must respect the constitutional prescriptions.
â€œIt baffles me that some very learned people are in the forefront flouting the Constitution.â€
Peopleâ€™s Development Movement (PDM) general secretary Msenga Mulungu also blamed government for the delay, arguing the issue of elections is not even debatable because there can be no elections without commissioners.
But Ntaba dismissed the allegations against government, saying the President has nothing to do with the Mzimba Central Constituency by-election.
Said Ntaba: “It is extremely unfair that some pockets of the opposition, and I believe some NGOs, are trying to blame the President in such issues.
â€œItâ€™s the Speaker of Parliament and EC that are tasked with arranging such elections.â€
Victor Sibale, personal assistant to the Speaker of the National Assembly, who is also chairperson of Public Relations Committee of Parliament Secretariat, said the Speaker did his part by giving notice in the official Government Gazette of the vacancy at the beginning of the just-ended sitting of Parliament.
Sibale pushed the matter back to the commission.
Through Section 63 (2) of the Constitution, the Speaker of the National Assembly is empowered to give notice in the Government Gazette in the event that the seat of any MP has become vacant.
Section 63(2)(b) says any by-election to fill a vacancy that occurs should be held within 60 days after the seat of the MP becomes vacant or, if in the opinion of the Speaker the circumstances do not so admit, then as expeditiously as possible after the expiry of that period.