Two days after closing the receipt of nomination papers from aspirants in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has warned candidates it will disqualify anyone not meeting the eligibility criteria.
In a written response to a questionnaire on what next after the submission of nomination papers, MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa yesterday said the commission was currently scrutinising all forms presented by presidential, parliamentary and local government aspirants.
He said the critical criteria includes payment of nomination fees and securing the prescribed number of signatures from registered voters.
Said Mwafulirwa: “The nomination can also fall off if the commission discovers that there was suppression of material facts by the candidate during nomination which if they were known at that time could have led to the disqualification of the candidate.
“On this, we are appealing to the public to help the commission with information of any candidate who is ineligible to contest. Factors such as whether an aspirant is still in the civil service, is an ex-convict whose conviction has not expired in seven years, is bankrupt, is not mentally sound, unable to speak or read English well enough.”
He said people with such information should share with MEC with evidence to support their claims.
On Friday, MEC closed the weeklong submission of nomination papers which saw presidential aspirants presenting theirs to MEC officials led by chairperson Jane Ansah at Chichiri International Conference Centre in Blantyre while parliamentary and local government hopefuls submitted through their respective constituency returning officers.
During the presidential nomination papers submission, MEC did not receive papers from some independent aspirants, including Ras Chikomeni Chirwa, Smart Swira and Daniel Ganiza after they failed to pay the K2 million nomination fees and had inadequate signatures of people nominating them. Each presidential aspirant is required to have 10 people nominating them in each of the country’s 28 districts.
In the case of Swira, he also failed to present a running mate at the venue.
Some commentators blamed MEC for allowing some candidates, who did not meet the requirements, to present their papers.
But the commission said some candidates had deliberately failed to utilise the window for pre-inspection of documents.
In a telephone interview yesterday, political analyst Augustine Magolowondo said the developments call for a revisiting of nomination procedures to avoid cases of disqualifications at the eleventh hour.
He said: “In my view, the process of vetting candidates should have preceded the presentation of papers. MEC should be given ample time to scrutinise all candidates and only those that qualify should be allowed to present their papers.”
In the run=up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, a High Court ruling by Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu overturned MEC’s decision to disqualify Umodzi Party president John Chisi and then Malawi Congress Party aspiring parliamentarian Jessie Kabwila.
The court had ruled that the electoral body did not have constitutional powers to block the nomination of a candidate. n