May 8, 2021

DPP drags Chakwera to court over fired MEC Commissioners

The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] has dragged to court President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and Secretary to the President and Cabinet [SPC], Mr. Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi over the firing of two MEC Commissioners, Dr. Jean Mathanga and Miss Angelina Linda Kunje.

Both the High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal [MSCA] and the Malawi Parliament declared the two Commissioners incompetent; that they cannot be trusted to preside over any future elections, and former President Professor Peter Mutharika defied the Supreme Court decision by appointing them as MEC Commissioners on 7th June, 2020.

The two incompetent MEC Commissioners presided over the Fresh Presidential Elections that saw President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera elected President of the Republic of Malawi on the 27th June, 2020. A development other legal experts have faulted MEC Chairman, Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale as fully mandated not to have told the two Commissioners that they were declared incompetent by the courts and they should not have been part of the MEC Commissioners to preside over the 23rd June 2020 Fresh Presidential Elections.

The DPP through its Lawyer, Charles Mhango, is seeking a judicial review of the decision to have their appointments rescinded.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC] is informing the general public and all electoral stakeholders that on 13th April 2021, the two Commissioners were served with letters from the SPC informing them that their respective appointments had been rescinded.

The Commission says the incident occurred as it is in the process of direct engagements with Political Party Leaders in the course of implementing the Boundaries Review and Delimitation Program uder their constitutional mandate.

In the statement signed by its Chairman, Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale, the Commission says it sought advice from the Attorney General on whether in accordance with section 75[1] of the Constitution, saying the reduced composition of the Commission was adequate for purposes  of discharging its functions or exercising its powers.

The Commission says through this letter dated 13th April 2021, the Attorney General has advised the Commission that the effect of the rescission of the appointment of the two Commissioners was that the membership was no longer in compliance with section 75[1] of the constitution.

The statement says the Commission has been further advised that the remaining members of the Commission should not continue discharging any duties or powers of the Commission until section 75[1] of the constitution has been complied.

…”The Commission has no legal authority or basis to continue implementing its activities which became suspended by operation of the law until further notice…,’’ reads the statement in part.

The Commission says the mandates practical implications is that the program of engagement with Political Party Leaders and the entire Boundary Review and Delimitation Programme is also suspended, pending the resolution of the current legal surrounding the composition of Electoral Commission by the relevant authority.

By Vincent Gunde

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