Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it will publish in the Malawi Government Gazette, the official publication of legal notices, the June 23, 2020 as the date of voting for the court-sanctioned fresh presidential elections but has indicated the country should expect a lot of irregularities in view of the short period of time for preparations
In a statement on Thursday, newly appointed MEC Chairperson Dr, Chifundo Kachale, who has succeeded Justice Jane Ansah who stepped aside two weeks ago after the court found the commission incompetent said the electoral body is gazetting the polling day in compliance with the formal communication from the Clerk of Parliament dated June 9 2020 informing the Commission of the Parliamentary Resolution of the same date.
"The said communication indicated that this resolution was passed on the basis of the Supreme Court of Appeal decision of 8th May 2020 directing the House to appoint the date for the Fresh Presidential Polls," reads the statement by Kachale, a judge of the High Court.
However, Kachale is very pessimistic as he said in the statement that the decision to publish the polling date has been arrived at with "considerable hesitation arising from the practicalities of holding genuine, credible elections in the view of logistical challenges that the commission anticipates in implementing steps towards the holding of the polls."
Meanwhile, the electoral commission is promptly seeking to engage directly with all contesting presidential candidates to "appraise them of these anticipated challenges and to explore possible mitigation measures for the purpose of ensuring delivering of credible, free and fair elections per the relevant mandate for this ominous Fresh Presidential Election. "
Kachale, who was sworn in by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on Tuesday in Blantyre, has vowed to restore public trust which the electoral body lost during the May 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He was sworn in alongside six commissioners, namely Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Arthur Nanthuru, Steve Duwa, Anthony Mukumbwa and Olivia Liwewe.
Kachale lauded by electoral stakeholders as a man of integrity, promised to deliver services that will earn the trust and confidence of the country's citizens.
"We would like to do what is good for this nation because this process is very vital to build the political and governance systems of this nation and we would like to do that in a manner that the people of Malawi will respect the outcomes," said the new MEC chairperson.
He observed that the commission is a constitutional body committed to holding regular, credible, fair and open elections, and it is its responsibility to ensure that the electoral process is conducted according to the prescription of the law to ensure that every stakeholder accepts the outcome.
The High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court on February 3 nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over irregularities, especially in the results management system and ordered a fresh election within 150 days which expires on July 3. The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on May 8 upheld the nullification.
However, the fresh election faces several legal and logistical challenges, including enabling laws and printing of ballot papers which is yet to be sanctioned.