The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has replaced its four Malawi Electoral Commission Commissioners initially appointed by former President Peter Mutharika following their nullification by the Malawi High Court.
On 2nd June 2021, Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ruled that the four Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Arthur Nanthuru and Steve Duwa were not duly appointed describing their hiring as ultra vires therefore void.
He further ordered the leadership of the DPP to make a fresh submission of nominees to fill its three allocated slots in the Commission immediately within seven days from the day of the judgment.
Judge Nyirenda on Wednesday ruled that four Commissioners representing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Jean Mathanga, Linda Kunje, Steve Duwa and Arthur Nanthuru, appointed by former president Peter Mutharika were not duly hired.
A statement from Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi has since announced the replacement of the four Commissioners by President Lazarus Chakwera.
“In exercise of his powers under Section 4 (4) of the Electoral Commission (Ammendment) Act 2018, His Excellency the President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has appointed the following as Commissioners of the Electoral Commissioners with effect from 9th June 2021:
“Mr. Richard Chapweteka, Nominated by Malawi Congress Party; 2. Mr. Francis Lazaro Kasaila, Nominated by Democratic Progressive Party; Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano, Nominated by Democratic Progressive Party; Ms. Caroline Mfune, Nominated by Democratic Progressive Party.”
Kasaila is a former parliamentarian whose Nsanje Central seat was also nullified by the court while Fabiano an academic, who served as Minister of Education during Mutharika's regime also lost his seat as a legislator in the 2019 tripartite polls.
With an impending by election on 29th June, the development brings relief to the operations of the Malawi Electoral Commission which was at the brink of suspending them if the four had not been replaced on time.
Over the weekend, the MEC Chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale indicated the ousting of the four has reduced the Commission to three including him which was less than the minimum number of members required under Section 75 (1) of the Constitution.
Kachale expressed fears the electoral body had no authority to make binding decisions and resolutions as it was not fully constituted.
“However, considering that the court has ordered the nominating authorities to submit names to be considered for appointment as Commissioners within 7 days from 2nd June 2021, we will be closely monitoring the compliance of this Court Order.
“If these matters are not resolved in a timely manner, our capacity to determine electoral complaints and determine results of the by elections set for the 29th June 2021 will legally impaired. In that event, by operation of the law, the by elections set for the 29th June 2021 will have to be considered suspended until the Commission is legally constituted,” read the Saturday statement.