Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has expressed confidence that with the coming in of it’s newly appointed Commissioners the Mchinji by-election will be conducted in October.
Speaking when the Commission appeared before the Legal Affairs, Public Appointments and Parastatals Committees on Thursday, Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga also disclosed that the demarcation exercise will be completed within the 2016-2017 financial year.
The issue of the Mchinji by-election took centre stage during the interface between members of the three Committees and MEC. Most of the members were of the view that the by-election has taken long to be conducted contrary to the provision that it was supposed to take place 60 days following the death of the Mchinji legislator Kanjila Banda.
Kalonga said that the electoral body was unable to conduct the by-election in May due to lack of funding from Treasury but nonetheless assured Parliament that come October the exercise will be done.
“We now have a new Commission and we hope that the by-election will be launched in August and we will have the polls in October,” assured Kalonga.
MEC was also queried on the progress of the demarcation process which the Committees felt needed to be urgently addressed and noted that if not done before 2018 it will be difficult as by then parties will be busy with campaigns hence it should be done quickly.
Commenting on the demarcation exercise, Kalonga said K500 Million has been allocated to them in the current budget and that they will strive to work within this budget.
He further said the electoral body engaged a consultant from Australia seconded to them by the Commonwealth who has since left the country and is expected to submit a report to MEC on the way forward.
Chairperson of the Commissions for Parastatals Lillian Patel explicitly stated that Committee members are not amused with the way the country’s electoral body has been carrying out some of its operations and need to pull up its socks.
Patel noted that by now MEC would have been conducting the demarcation exercise hence the process should be expedited.