The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has asked for the postponement of a parliamentary hearing on the competence of MEC commissioners saying the commissioners are yet to read the 500-page Constitutional Court ruling delivered on 3 February, 2020.
MEC Chief Elections Officer Sammy Alfandika has written the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament to delay the hearing by 21 days.
Individual commissioners were summoned to appear before Parliament starting on Monday following a Constitutional Court order that Members of Parliament should inquire into the capacity and competence of the current MEC commissioners to oversee and conduct fresh presidential elections.
The commissioners are chairperson Justice Jane Ansah, Jean Mathanga, Elvey Mtafu, Bishop Mary Nkosi, Linda Kunje, Reverend Killion Mgawi, Moffat Banda, Yahaya M’madi and Reverend Clifford Baloyi.
However, Alfandika in his letter to Parliament asked for the hearing to be delayed by 21 days to give the commissioners sufficient time.
According to Alfandika, the commissioners are yet to read the Constitutional Court ruling hence are yet to appreciate the reasoning of the court in coming up with its decision.
He added that the commissioners are entitled to seek legal opinion on the court ruling and also want to have legal representation when appearing before Parliament.
“Lastly, it has been noted that the summonses are intended to make an enquiry on the aspects of capacity and competence of the commissioners. We bemoan lack of particularity on the two heads of enquiry and request of your good office to accordingly furnish the commissioners with sufficient particulars of the heads of enquiry to enable them prepare well to face the committee,” reads part of Alfandika’s letter,” addressed to chairperson of the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Commenting on the issue, legal expert Sunduzwayo Madise questioned why the commissioners advised MEC lawyers to appeal the Constitutional Court ruling when the commissioners have not read the ruling.
“The Commission is playing petty with serious matters of state. There is too much self interest in their approach and not as public service institutions,” he wrote on his Facebook account.
He also noted that summons from Parliament are not negotiable and the commissioners could be in contempt of court if they do not appear before Parliament on Monday.
He said: “A Court can be moved to impose including the penalty of imprisonment.”