We are committed to remain impartial, neutral and independent – Kachale

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale has assured Malawians that MEC commissioners are committed to remain impartial, neutral and independent in their operations and decision making.

Kachale made the remarks in Lilongwe on Saturday where he and six commissioners of MEC held a press briefing.

He said the commissioners are committed to holding a credible election despite some of the challenges that they face.

“We remain committed to engaging stakeholders and we approach the process with an open mind to embrace any ideas from stakeholders that will contribute and enhance the credibility of this election,” he said.

Kachale and six MEC commissioners – Arthur Nanthuru, Steve Duwa, Dr Jean Mathanga, Ms Linda Kunje, Dr Anthony Mukumbwa and Mrs Olivia Liwewe – were appointed by President Peter Mutharika last week.

Mathanga and Kunje were also part of the commission that managed the 2019 presidential elections which were nullified by the court.

When questioned about public trust in the retained two commissioners, Kachale said he has no doubt in his team and will not allow history to destroy them.

He also said that the commission has managed to meet all the three presidential candidates in the 2020 Fresh Presidential Elections to update them on the state of preparedness, the challenges that MEC anticipates and what initiatives MEC are taking to mitigate the challenges.

“These face-to face meetings also afforded us a unique opportunity for the candidates to inform us of their expectations on the work of the Commission as regards the Fresh Presidential Election and to agree on modalities for ongoing engagement with their nominating political parties,” he said.

Some of the challenges which Kaphale mentioned include a budget deficit of K8.7 Billion as the commission has been provided with K29.6 billion out of a budget of K38.3 billion. He further expressed concern over delay by the Treasury to release funds to the commission.

Kachale also highlighted challenges in procurement of critical materials such as security seal padlocks, envelopes, polling booths, badges, security seals plastics, pens rubber bands and paper towel.

He said mitigating factors for these challenges include hiring new suppliers and reviewing the capacity of supplies who have already been hired.

“The Commission may where absolutely necessary seek an extension to the date of elections if the above challenges are not resolved timely,” said Kachale.

He then asked political parties to advise their followers to always follow coronavirus protective measures and also refrain from violence during the election process.