MEC may delay elections due to COVID-19 threat

Jane Ansah, Namathanga

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and Stakeholders have their hands tied on the prospects of the Corona Virus outbreak which is likely to affect the fresh elections slated for July 2 this year.

The two sides had a NECOF meting at Sunbird Nkopola in Mangochi on Friday to deliberate on the issue.

MEC chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah SC said currently, the only thing that can affect the process are the polling materials which are produced overseas.

Ansah said the commission is however devising other options and therefore will proceed with some of its programmes, including the recruitment and training of registration officials.

“You know in Malawi we don’t produce some resources that can be used during the fresh election, some more resources are coming from abroad, now that there is lockdown this will surely affect us at some point.

"About preparations of elections we have already started and I am sure we will come up with plan B through our preparations on how we are going to purchase resources, if the issue of corona virus hits Malawi MEC will have no option but to cancel elections,” Ansah explained.

Stakeholders at the meeting- photos by Mayamiko Majawa

Center for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) chairperson Kandi Padambo of UDF concurred with MEC chairperson saying the issue of COVID-19 need serious preparations especially on how they would proceed with the election.

Padambo however repressed Ansah’s remarks on their powers to cancel the elections should the COVID-19’s effects persist.

“For now, I support the idea of continuing with the preparations, you know political parties cannot stop the elections, only the Ministry of Health has the power to advise us to do so,” he added.

He then urged party leaders to take up the civic education initiative on the prevention of the virus.