BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The firing of two Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Jean Namathanga and Linda Kunje have dragged Malawi into a potential constitutional crisis which some observers say will require the country to conduct fresh local government, parliamentary and presidential elections.
Commenting on the matter, Law professor, Garton Kamchedzera, says there is need for the Secretary to President and Cabinet Chikhosi Zangazanga and Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe to cool off their misunderstandings to find common ground going forward on the issue.
On Tuesday, April 13, 2021 AG Chikosa Silungwe advised MEC Chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale that the electoral body has automatically been rendered incapacitated and can no longer discharge any of the duties it is mandated to.
The development comes in the work of the two commissioners being fired on the grounds that they were declared incompetent following the botched 2019 presidential election which declared Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, Peter Mutharika winner.
Responding to a letter which was referred to the Attorney General’s office for perusal and legal guidance the response has pronounced doom to the presidency and the future of the electoral body.
“Upon acknowledging receipt of the letter of rescission for the two Commissioners, the AG advised MEC chairperson that his cohort can no longer discharge any duty or power of the Electoral Commission under the Constitution or an Act of Parliament until Section 75(1) of the Republican constitution has been compiled with.
“One of the effects of the rescission of the appointment of the two Commissioners is that there is no Electoral Commission in accordance with section 75(1) of the Constitution, my advice is that the remaining members of your cohort should not discharge any duty or power of the Electoral Commission,” reads part of the letter.
Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Dr. Chifundo Kachale, has announced that the Commission no longer has legal authority to continue implementing its activities in view of advice of Attorney General, Dr. Chikosa Silungwe, that “the effect of the rescission of the appointment of the two commissioners was that the membership of the Commission was no longer in compliance” with the law. Further to this, remaining members of the Commission will not be expected to continue discharging any duties.
Kachale stressed that the development follows a decision communicated by Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Zanga-zanga Chikhosi, rescinding the appointments of Commissioner Linda Kunje and Commissioner Jean Mathanga on the basis that the Supreme Court of Appeal had declared the two incompetent in view of their performance as Commissioners during the 2019 Presidential Election, which the Constitutional Court later annulled.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has filed for judicial review in the Lilongwe High Court registery on what it described as matter of extreme urgency as an impugned decision being made at a crucial time when the Electoral Commission is about to decide on the demarcations of constituency boundaries in the country.
The suit further pointed out that the rescission of the appointment of the two Electoral Commissioners (Jean Namathanga and Linda Kunje) has stifled the representation of the Applicant in the Electoral Commission.
Malawi is indeed in legal crisis.