The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has announced another postponement of the Mchinji by-election to fill the vacancy of Member of Parliament due to failure by the Government through the Ministry of Finance to provide funding for the poll.
When I heard this announcement it immediately came to my mind that the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi clearly provides for by-election to fill a vacancy of Member of Parliament. Section 63(2)(b) provides that: Any by-election to fill a vacancy that occurs shall be held within sixty days after the seat of the member becomes vacant or, if in the opinion of the Speaker the circumstances do not so admit, then as expeditiously as possible after the expiry of that period.
There is no doubt that the Speaker gazetted the vacancy of the Member of Parliament in Mchinji which enabled the Electoral Commission to begin to take appropriate action to fill the vacancy.
Furthermore, the announcement by the Electoral Commission does not mention the Speaker as having taken the decision.
As the above Section clearly shows, it does not allow the Commission or Government through the Ministry of Finance to postpone a by-election to fill a vacancy of a Member of Parliament.
The Constitution being the supreme law of Malawi binds everyone including Government and its organs. Furthermore, statutes such as the Public Finance Management Act cannot override the Constitution. In the absence of another constitutional provision that overrides the above constitutional provision then the Ministry of Finance is violating the constitution by failing to fund the Electoral Commission to hold the Mchinji by-election.
This should be of great concern to all Malawians when government through the Ministry of Finance violates the Constitution as in this case. I urge the Ministry of Finance to comply with the Constitution in this matter.
That is why the postponement of the Mchinji by-election is disturbing as it appears to be a violation of a constitutional provision.