Malawi: Mbakuwaku Pens MEC Over Changing of Running Mates - 'Mutharika, Chakwera Against Court Order'

Tonse Alliance President Lazarous Chakwera addresses the gathering at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.

Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) has written Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) seeking the pollster's justification to allow President Peter Mutharika and Lazarus Chakwera to participate in the forthcoming fresh presidential election with different running mates other than the ones they contested with in the May 2019 elections.

MMD presidential torchbearer Peter Dominico Sinosi Driver Kuwani argues in a letter dated 26 May 2020 that the consequential directions and recommendations from the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal (MSCA) do not provide for the changing of running mates; hence, what Mutharika and Chakwera did to drop their initial running mates is against the law.

Kuwani has maintained his running mate Archibald Kalawang'oma while Mutharika - who is also the leader of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) - has picked Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF) following the forging of an electoral alliance early this year.

On the other hand, Chakwera - who is the torchbearer for the mega Malawi Congress Party (MCP), settled for State Vice President and leader of UTM party, Saulos Klaus Chilima, in a mega alliance that has pooled nine political parties together to unseat the current regime.

But Kuwani claims that Mutharika and Chakwera changed their running mates in a desperate move to secure 50+1 votes to avoid a rerun in the event that no candidate secure majority votes.

"It is apparent that the deemed presidential candidates X and Z were strategizing for the 50 + 1 voting system; hence, forfeiture of their 21 May 2019 running mates whom they felt could not bring the required numbers. However, in an event of a rerun in fulfillment of the 50 + 1 voting system, candidates are only permitted to forge alliances outside the legally binding candidature as opposed to roping in new running mates (swapping of candidature is not permitted)... .fresh presidential election will not run away from the practice of a rerun since fresh election is just a repeat of the electoral process sanctioned as a consequence of irregularities," reads part of the letter MMD has addressed to MEC chief elections officer, Samy Alfandika.

Kuwani argues that by allowing Chakwera and Mutharika to change their running mates, MEC had acted against the legal standing of Section 80 (3) and 80 (4) of the Malawi Constitution.

He wonders whether Chakwera and Mutharika could be allowed to change their Vice Presidents in the event that they were duly elected in the annulled election.

"In an event of victory on 21 May 2019 presidential election, would the presidential candidates have legal standing for replacing their First Vice President with a person of his choice who contested as a presidential candidate or running mate during the 21 May 2019 presidential election?" asks Kuwani.

He concludes by urging MEC to objectively validate the presidential candidates based on facts, the point of law and MSCA consequential directions and recommendations as contained in the judgment of May 8 2020.

MEC is yet to respond to the letter, but Justice Link executive director Justin Dzonzi said recently that Chakwera and Mutharika had not breached any law by settling for pairing with different personalities in the forthcoming poll.

Dzonzi added that Chilima - who also contested in the May 21 2019 presidential election - was within his rights to drop his ambitions for the presidency to stand alongside Chakwera in the poll.

More From: Nyasa Times

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