BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)— Citizens for Transformation (CFT)—People Power Movement led by Timothy Mtambo—has condemned Malawi President Peter Mutharika for what they call faulty appointment of commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Mutharika, through the office of Chief Secretary to the Government, announced a list of new commissioners yesterday to take over from the Jane Ansah-led team whose contracts expired on 5th June, 2020.
The new commission, which is led by Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale, has seen Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje maintaining their seats after serving in the prevous commission.
Reacting, CFT has accused Mutharika of gross disregard to the law by misrepresenting other political parties in the commission and also maintaining personalities who were found incompetent by both the lower court and the Supreme Court.
In a statement signed by the Negracious Justin, Communications and Public Relations Strategist and Lyson Sibande, Deputy Communications and Public Relations Strategist, the People Power Movement leadership has expressed shock and disappointment over the appointment, arguing it is contrary to the dictates of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
“Section 3 of the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Act, 2017, which was published in Gazette on 24th October 2018, provides that “leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly, which secured more than one tenth of the national vote in election to parliament, shall submit to the President a maximum of three persons as political parties nominees as members of the Commission from where the President shall appoint members of the Commission from the nominees in proportion to the nominating political parties representation in the National Assembly as determined by the previous General Elections.
“If the current parliamentary representation in the National Assembly is anything to go by, it therefore follows that only DPP and MCP were eligible to submit the nominees to the President for the appointment of commissioners. At the same time, section 75 of the Constitution provides that the MEC Commissioners shall not be less than six,” reads the statement in part.
“From the composition of the current MEC commissioners set out above, it clearly follows that the appointment of names nominated by the UDF, a political party whose representation in the National Assembly is below the benchmark of at least One Tenth, is irregular and inconsistent with section 3 of the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Act, 2017, cited above. Should it be the contention that UDF did not make any nominations, it would follow that DPP nominated more than 3 names and that 4 have been appointed there from. This, too, is inconsistent with the Constitution and consequently renders the appointments void ab initio. In our view, President Mutharika must, without further ado, re-visit the appointment in a manner that is consistent with the law,” they added.
The political movement has further faulted the president for maintaining people who were dully declared incompetent by the court.
“It is common cause that both the Courts and the Parliament found the previous Commissioners who presided over the 2019 elections to be incompetent. It does not require special emphasis that competence, fitness and propriety of the commissioners is an essential and key element of effective performance, management, trust and credibility of the electoral commission.
“Whilst competence reflects to the set of behaviour patterns an individual needs to display in order to perform effectively and efficiently in his or her position, lack thereof diminishes trust that such a candidate can perform as expected of him/her,” the statement reads further.
However, Supreme Court Judge Justice Dustain Mwaungulu has applauded Mutharika for conforming to the statutory gender ratio.
“Congratulations to the nominee of the Judicial Service Commission of the Chairman to the Commisdion and the President’s appointments of the other members to the Malawi Electoral Commission by the President.
“Kudos to the President the appointments are excellently in conformity with the statutory gender ratio,” wrote Mwaungulu on his official facebook page.