The ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has dragged President Lazarus Chakwera to court over the appointment of commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
The commissioners are Arthur Nanthulu, Steve Duwa, Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga. The four together with Dr Anthony Mukumbwa and Mrs Olivia Liwewe were appointed by the then president Peter Mutharika last year.
However, since MCP’s case is against the state president, Chakwera who is also the MCP president is the defendant and he is expected to be represented by the Office of the Attorney General.
The application for judicial review has been filed by MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka through lawyer Abison Chitukula.
MCP in its application cites Section 4 of the amended Electoral Commission Act of 2017 which gives parties with one-tenth of the parliamentary seats power to submit to the President a minimum of three nominees to be appointed as MEC commissioners.
Last year, only Democratic Progressive Party and MCP qualified to submit nominations. However, Mutharika, the president at the time, appointed four commissioners nominated by the DPP while two of the three MCP nominees were appointed.
“As a qualifying political party, especially where only two political parties qualified, MCP was entitled to have all three nominees appointed, but instead the defendant (the President) appointed only two of MCP’s nominees without any reason given for rejecting the other nominee and, in contrast, appointed four for the DPP,” the application reads in part.
The ruling party wants the High Court to declare the appointment of the four DPP commissioners illegal and to order the president to appoint new commissioners.
The MCP government has also been refusing to recognize the appointment of Kunje and Mathanga saying the two were declared incompetent by the court as they were part of the commission which managed the now nullified 2019 presidential elections.
Last year, Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe told the Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi that maintaining the composition of the current MEC commission would be “neater and mature political pragmatism.”