The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Justice Chifundo Kachale, has said the commission does not have the legal mandate as stipulated under Section 75(1) as advised by the Attorney General, Dr Chikosa Silungwe.
Kachale made the remarks in a statement this morning following the firing of Commissioners Dr. Jean Mathanga and Ms. Linda Kunje.
According to Kachale, the removal of the two happened as MEC was in the process of direct engagements with Political Party Leaders in the course of implementing the Boundaries Review and Delimitation Program.
“In view of this development and advice, the Commission has henceforth no legal authority or basis to continue implementing its activities which become suspended by operation of the law until further notice.
“The immediate practical implication is that the program of engagement with Political Party Leaders and the entire Boundary Review and Delimitation Programme is likewise suspended, pending the resolution of the current legal quagmire surrounding the composition of the Electoral Commission by the relevant authorities,” said Kachale.
Section 75 (1) of the Constitution states: “There shall be an Electoral Commission which shall consist of a Chairman who shall be a Judge nominated in that behalf by the Judicial Service Commission and such other members, not being less than six, as may be appointed in accordance with an Act of Parliament.”
Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe, citing the section, advised Kachale yesterday that the Government’s firing of Kunje and Mathanga means there is no Electoral Commission and the remaining commissioners should stop discharging their duties.
Kunje and Mathanga were fired by the Lazarus Chakwera administration on grounds that they were declared incompetent to serve as commissioners by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
In informing the two of their removal, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi cited section 75 (3) (b) of the Constitution which says that a person shall cease to be a commissioner of MEC “if any circumstances arise that, if that person were not a member of the Electoral Commission, he or she would be disqualified for appointment as such.”