The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it wants to maintain quality standards of elections management in the country following the success of the June 23 Fresh Presidential Election.
In an interview on the sidelines of a training of trainers workshop in Blantyre yesterday, MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika said the fresh presidential election raised the bar of excellence; hence, they want to maintain such.
He said: “As a commission, we do not want to lower the standards but keep improving in the way we conduct elections in Malawi. The most important factor that we are mindful of is that the fresh presidential election raised the bar in the way the commission conducted its business.”
MEC conducted the training of trainers ahead of by-elections scheduled for November 10 2020 in five constituencies and one ward.
During the training, the trainers, who are expected to train field staff participating in the by-elections, were urged to maintain professionalism and embrace changes in the management of the by-elections.
Alfandika said the trainers will be instrumental in ensuring that field staff discharge their duties in the right way so that the by-elections satisfy the quality standards that MEC seeks to achieve and maintain.
He said MEC will also continue to engage relevant stakeholders to, among others, ensure a free, fair and credible process.
Asked how the electoral body is preparing for the by-elections amid Covid-19, Alfandika said they have put in place measures to protect both voters, MEC staff and other stakeholders.
Among some of the measures, the chief elections officer said MEC is distributing personal protective equipment, providing hand sanitisers and hand-washing facilities.
He also said by the end of the week, MEC will meet all stakeholders to emphasise the need to avoid the further spread of the pandemic from the pre-voting, voting and post-voting period.
On Saturday, MEC chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale, who is also a High Court judge, said all processes of the by-elections will be done under strict observation of the Covid-19 preventive measures.
According to the MEC calendar, nomination papers will be available for collection from respective district commissioners’ offices on September 10 2020 while nomination of candidates will be done a month later on October 7 2020.
The Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (PPE) Act compels MEC to conduct by-elections within 60 days after a constituency falls vacant.
MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa told The Nation earlier that the polls delayed because circumstances did not allow the process to start in good time.
The by-elections will be held in Mangochi West which fell vacant on December 20 2019; Mangochi North East which fell vacant on June 8 2020, and Phalombe North which fell vacant on June 22 2020—all after court nullification of the May 21 2019 election results.
Lilongwe North West fell vacant on May 8 2020 following the resignation of President Lazarus Chakwera prior to the June 23 Fresh Presidential Election and later Karonga Central fell vacant following the death of legislator Cornelius Mwalwanda.
Chikwawa Makhuwira South Ward fell vacant in August 2020 following death of councillor Mannick Gannet who died after sustaining a gunshot wound.