Francis Kasaila: Now MEC Commissioner

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—At the behest of the respected High Court Judge Kenyata Nyirenda, Malawi leader Lazarus Chakwera has appointed new Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners; thus, making the electoral body fully and legally constituted to proceed with all planned activities.

The appointed commissioners are as follows: Richard Chapweteka ( MCP), Francis Kasaila (DPP), Dr Emmanuel Fabiano ( DPP), Miss Caroline Mfune (DPP).

This follows a recent court ruling which nullified the appointment of four other commissioners; Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Steven Duwa and Arthur Nanthuru who joined MEC on a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket last year after the Constitutional Court and later Supreme Court nullified the 2019 presidential elections.

High Court Judge Nyirenda described the conduct of former president Peter Mutharika in the appointment of the 2020 cohort of electoral commissioners as full of “impunity” and fired  the appointees sponsored by DPP.

Delivering judgement in a case where Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka sued the country’s President demanding removal of the four commissioners sponsored by former governing Democratic DPP, the judge observed that Mutharika, as the appointing authority, deliberately flouted the law by tilting the balance of power in the commission in favour of his party.

He said DPP and the then opposition MCP were supposed to have equal representation in the commission at three each; hence, the appointment of Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Steven Duwa and Arthur Nanthuru on a DPP ticket was void.

Nyirenda said: “It doesn’t take rocket science to note that the interested parties [concerned commissioners] were not duly appointed.”

Mutharika a ppointed the current cohort of MEC commissioners chaired by High Court Judge Chifundo Kachale on June 7 2020 ahead of the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election held on June 23.

The election followed the nullification of the May 21 2019 presidential election results on February 3 2020 by a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court and the decision was upheld by a seven-judge panel of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on May 8.

In his ruling, Nyirenda provided direction on the composition of MEC, saying as it stands only two commissioners sponsored by MCP, namely Anthony Mukumbwa and Olivia Liwewe were duly appointed.

In this regard, he asked DPP to submit names of three nominees to be considered for its slots in the commission while MCP was asked to provide one.

The judge also clarified that the firing of the four commissioners did not in any way affect the decisions they had undertaken during their tenure, including management of the fresh presidential election and several by-elections.

The court also ordered that the name of the previous MCP nominee Richard Chapweteka, whom Mutharika ignored in his appointment of the commissioners, be resubmitted to President Lazarus Chakwera for action.

Section 75 (1) of the Constitution provides that the Electoral Commission shall consist of a judge and other such members not being less than six.

On the other hand, Section 11(3) of the Electoral Commission Act provides that the quorum at every meeting of the commission shall be 51 percent of the members of the commission.

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