MEC yet to set new date for by-elections in three constituencies

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is yet to set a new date for by-elections in three constituencies which are expected to be conducted as a result of nullification of 2019 Parliamentary elections.

The by-elections for Mangochi West, Mangochi North East, and Phalombe North were expected to be held on November 10 this year but were postponed earlier this week.

In preparation for the by-elections before postponement, MEC decided to register new voters and eligible voters, and open up the nomination process for all candidates deemed eligible to participate in the by-elections.

However, MEC’s interpretation was challenged in Court by some of the contestants and it has turned out that MEC was wrong in that understanding.

The High Court in its decision on 7th of October, 2020 made it very clear that the decision of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal arising from the recent Presidential Elections contest is binding and provides the correct legal position in so far as issues of by-elections which are necessitated by judicial nullification of electoral outcomes is concerned.

“Whereby elections arising from other reasons, that decision does not bind us but where they are coming from nullification of results, we are bound to follow that guidance,” said MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale.

The ruling led to the postponement in the three constituencies. To comply with the ruling, only the candidates who participated in the 2019 Parliamentary elections will be considered eligible to contest in the elections and their status and political party affiliations will be maintained in the by-elections.

The voters’ register will also be reset to the state it was on 21st May 2019, thus only those who registered ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections in the areas where the by-elections will be held, will be the ones eligible to vote and no transfers of voters will be allowed.

Meanwhile the by-elections in the other 2 constituencies and one ward namely Karonga Central, Lilongwe North West, and Makhwira Ward in Chikwawa will proceed on 10th November 2020 as originally planned.

This is the case because those polls emanate from a scenario where either the former MP or Councillor died or otherwise vacated the office voluntarily.

Kachale said that government has financed the by elections and the commission is ready to conduct the polls.