By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Elections Commission (MEC) has announced that the campaign period for the 2019 Tripartite Elections shall be opened on 19th March and close on 19th May 2019 at 6:00am, ready for the D-Day, May 21.
This was announced on Sunday through a press statement, in which it also said MEC has appointed Constituency and Ward Returning Officers, who shall be receiving nomination papers from candidates wishing to contest for the office of Member of Parliament and Local Council from the dates beginning 4th February 2019 to 8th February 2019 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on each day at the places that candidates can identify through MEC offices and that of the District Commissioner’s (DCs).
From January 3, DCs office and the Constituency and Ward Returning Officer’s offices have been handing out nomination papers to aspiring candidates or their representatives for independent candidates and secretaries general for those who will be sponsored by political parties.
“The Chief Elections Officer shall receive nomination papers from candidates wishing to contest for the office of President of the Republic of Malawi at the Electoral Commission Offices at COMESA Hall in Blantyre from 4th February 2019 to 8th February 2019,” says the statement.
This is being done under section 36 (1) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, and under section 28 (1) of the Local Government Elections Act WHEREAS it is provided by law that the Electoral Commission (the “Commission”) shall organize, conduct and supervise Parliamentary, Presidential and Local Government Elections;
And WHEREAS it is provided under the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and under the Local Government Elections Act that the Commission shall appoint the place, date and time for the receipt by the Returning Officer of the nominations of candidates;
WHEREAS it is provided under the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and under the Local Government Elections Act that all political parties and candidates shall have the right to campaign in public in an election.
Meanwhile, by close of business on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, MEC had collected nomination papers from 13 aspiring presidential candidates under party ticket and independents.
The candidates under party ticket are the incumbent, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, Malawi Congress Party; Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima (UTM); Atupele Austin Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and former President Dr Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda of the People’s Party (PP).
The others are Dr Cassim Chilumpha of Tikonze Peoples Movement (TPM); Chimbuna Belekiah, United Independence Party (UIP); Dr Chris Daza of the Democratic Peoples Congress (DEPECO) and Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD).
The independent presidential candidates are Henry Jailos Mbewe, Smart Swira, Pastor Dr Baxter Boyd Natulu and Ras Chikomeni David Chirwa.
MEC also stressed that every candidate is encouraged to take their nomination papers for pre-inspection from the day they collect the papers up to the time before presenting the nomination papers.
“The Parliamentary and Local Government aspirants can consult their Constituency Returning Officers, District Elections Clerk, District Commissioners or Chief Executives of the councils to pre-inspect the nomination papers.
“For presidential aspirants, the nomination paper has to be pre-examined by the MEC head office. This will avoid unnecessary inconveniences on the submission day arising from rejection of the nomination papers due to improper completion,” MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah had said on January 3.
She also reminded the aspiring candidates that nomination fees should be deposited with any branch of the FDH Bank before presentation of nomination paper by the candidate and that any cheque that bounces will lead to disqualification of the candidates.
The nomination fees are K2 million for Presidential candidates (both men and women); K500,000 and K250,000 for Parliamentary male and female candidates respectively; K375,000 for the youth and K250,000 for people with disabilities.
For the Local Government Elections, men will pay K40,000; women K20,000, the youth K30,000 and people with disabilities K20,000.
The final phase of the voter verification exercise for the May 2019 tripartite elections ended on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 but the public can continue to verify their personal details using the SMS services up to January 31, 2019.
In a statement, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is encouraging registered voters to check the correctness of their registration details by dialing *2019# on TNM and Airtel networks and follow instructions.
“This facility is free and one handset can be used by more than one person to verify voter registration details. Should you need further information or clarification, please contact our Director of Media and Public Relations, Mr Sangwani Mwafulirwa on 0999274304 or email email@example.com,” said the statement signed by Sam Alfandika, the Chief Elections Officer.