LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)—A budget of MK 1 billion Kwacha has been set aside to hold the long overdue Mchinji West constituency by-election, Maravi Post has established.This development has likely pleased the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which was bitter over the delay in conducting the elections after 60 days had elapsed since the Constituency fell vacant due to the death of MCP Lawmaker Billy Kanjira Banda.
The country’s electoral laws are very clear that if the constituency is vacant, by-elections must be conducted within 60 days, and that falling to do so, comprehensive reasons are supposed to be given by the electoral body.
This is the reason MCP in May this year demanded treasury to immediately release funds meant for conducting by-elections in constituency arguing that further delays in conducting the elections was tantamount to violation of people’s rights to representation.
The party even accused the treasury of conniving with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for playing delaying tactics.
The black cock camp allegedly said that the governing DPP was not ready for the exercise hence giving unjustifiable reasons for the delay despite the country’s constitution order.
MCP’s calls however that time hit a snag as the treasury and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) were pushing to each other over the availability of the funds to host the by-election.
This worried some quarters of the society who questioned government commitment towards promotion of democracy the nation attained two decades ago.
The dilly-dallying in holding the election puzzled many considering that MEC released a draft calendar of events for the constituency by-election in April this year.
But the storm is over now following Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe announcement in Parliament that MK1 billion has been budgeted for holding the elections.
Gondwe told the current budget Parliament sitting that all was set for holding of the elections in that constituency following MK2.8 billion allocations for MEC in the 2016/2017 fiscal year plan.
Most legislators who contributed to this vote also questioned the minister as to why MEC in the past financial year failed to carry out constituency demarcation exercise despite MK300 million allocations.
But Gondwe defended the delay due to insufficient of statistics information for constituencies to facilitate the process.