With the 60-day official campaign for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections rolled out yesterday, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has pushed up a gear by designating a stand-by six-member mediation team and pre-testing a mobile phone violence-reporting app.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri told a consultative meeting in Blantyre on Monday that the quasi-religious body, formed in 1992 during the country’s political transition from one party to multiparty system of government, has set up the mediation team to be at hand to resolve election-related stalemates.
He also said PAC has engaged 140 youths within its structures nationwide to capture cases of violence and report the same under what it calls Early Warning and Early Response System.
Said Phiri: “We are making ourselves ready at both national and local levels through the mediation team and the violence-reporting app.”
He said the stand-by mediators are not members of its board, but representatives of mother bodies of its member religious bodies.
In the stalemate that preceded the announcement of the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections results, PAC mediators comprising two women and four men engaged the four leading presidential candidates and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in separate meetings to appreciate the challenges and get their perspectives on the matter.
In the run up to the forthcoming elections, PAC also plans to hold national prayers to be attended by all the eight contesting presidential candidates. During the prayers, PAC, like it did in 2014, seeks to make the candidates sign and commit to upholding a declaration for peaceful elections.
In 2014, then incumbent president Joyce Banda, who had ascended to the presidency in April 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika, threw the country into a legal maze when she attempted to nullify the May 20 Tripartite Elections, citing electoral fraud and irregularities as reasons for her decision.
But constitutional law experts dismissed Banda’s call, saying the President has no mandate under the Constitution and electoral laws to invalidate results of an election.