Africa-Press – Malawi. The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is an independent institution, but it still has to be accountable on how it has conducted or discharged its functions, the Commission’s Chairperson Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale has said.
He was speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Thursday, 7 October, 2021 when he led the Commission to present the reports for the 2019 Tripartite Elections and the 2020 Fresh Presidential Election to President Lazarus Chakwera.
Other officials who attended the event included Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Titus Mvalo, Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, MEC Commissioners, and MEC Acting Chief Elections Officer, Harris Potani, among others.
He said Section 6(1) of the Electoral Commission Act says, “Every individual member and employee of the Commission shall perform the functions and exercise the powers provided for in this Act independently of the direction or interference of (a) any public office; (b) any organ of the Government; (c) any political party; (d) any candidate; or (e) any person whosoever or organization whatsoever: Provided that for the purpose only of accountability the Commission shall be answerable, and report directly, to the President on the overall fulfilment of the functions and powers of the Commission.
“It is for this purpose only that the Commission reports directly to the President,” he said.
He said the reports give details and an account on the management of the entire process of two elections starting from voter registration up to results management and announcement.
“The Commission wishes to reaffirm its commitment to holding of elections that are free, fair and credible to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. The Commission will remain impartial, nonpartisan and professional in the execution of its mandate,” he said, adding that since June 2020, the Commission has held by-elections in 13 constituencies and five wards.
Justice Kachale informed the President that MEC is scheduled to hold by-elections on 26 October, 2021 in three constituencies and one ward – Mzimba East, Nkhota-Kota North East, Dedza Central East, and Chimwalire Ward in Balaka.
He expressed the Commission’s gratitude to the government “for always being responsive and providing financial support timely for running elections”, noting that the country is facing challenges especially with the Covid-19 pandemic which has put so much stress to the economy. Reviewing constituency, ward boundaries
The Chairperson also reminded President Chakwera that the Commission is in the process of reviewing constituency and ward boundaries to ensure that they are in compliance with the law. This exercise was last done in 1998 and since then all the anomalies have crept in to an extent that we have constituencies that are several times bigger in population of voters eligible to register to vote than others, he said.
“This has to be corrected to ensure that the provision of section 76(2) of the Constitution, which requires that constituencies should have approximately equal population of voters eligible to register to vote is satisfied. The Commission is glad to report that the extensive activities towards reviewing constituency and ward boundaries have commenced. From 23rd August to 17th September, 2021 the Commission held stakeholders’ sensitisation meetings in all the councils in the country.
“The Commission is continuing with the activities and is now receiving submissions from the public up to 20 October, 2021. The Commission has also set up Boundary Review Committees in all the councils that will work under delegated authority of the Commission to conduct site visits and make recommendations to the Commission of the actual boundaries in line with the determination of the number of constituencies, which has been determined by the Commission in accordance with the factors and guidelines set by the law.
“After reviewing all views received and recommendations of the boundary review committees, the Commission will come up with preliminary maps, which will be displayed in public places in all the councils. After that there will be public hearings with all stakeholders to get feedback, which will be incorporated in the revised maps before submission to Parliament by October, 2022,” he said. Justice Kachale said he hoped that the final report will be confirmed by the National Assembly.