MEC asks Mutharika to appoint new commissioners

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has asked President Peter Mutharika to appoint new commissioners for the electoral body.

MEC chief elections officer Sammy Alfandika revealed this when he appeared before the before the legal Affairs Committee of Parliament on Wednesday.

According to Alfandika, the term of the current commissioners expires on June 5 while that of MEC Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah ends in October this year.

He noted that since the 2020 elections will be in July, the current commissioners will only participate in the later stages of the electoral process and then stop along the way.

“The new ones that would be appointed with effect from 6th June 2020 may have very little time to understand the process to complete the election. So, we wrote the President last week on this issue,” he said.

On other issues affecting the commission’s preparedness for the 2020 presidential elections, Alfandika mentioned the budget deficit of K5 billion for the polls and the coronavirus saying restrictions imposed due to the pandemic will affect supply of electoral materials.

“Ballot papers might not be purchased in time if the coronavirus scare escalates to June as local printers are shunning to print the ballot papers in fear of reprisal,” he said.

Reacting to MEC’s request for Mutharika to appoint new MEC commissioners, expressed hope that Mutharika will act swiftly.

Opposition parties have been demanding the removal of the MEC commissioners and chairperson Ansah due to irregularities in the now nullified 2019 presidential elections.

Last month, the Parliamentary Appointments Committee inquired into the competence of the commissioners and recommended that they should be fired.

However, President Peter Mutharika refused to fire the commissioners.