* Nkhata Bay Central Constituency fell vacant after court nullification of 2019 results
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is set to hold by-elections for Nkhata Bay Constituency and two wards, Chikwembere in Blantyre North and Lalanje in Nsanje Lalanje constituencies.
The post for Nkhata Bay Central Constituency, that was declared from the 2019 tripartite elections results as having been won Simon Vuwa Kaunda, fell vacant after court nullification while the Councillors for the two wards died.
Constituencies that have been nullified by the courts since 2019 include Mangochi West; Mangochi North East; Phalombe North; Chikwawa East; Nsanje North and Nsanje Central.
The electoral calendar for the June 29 by-elections started on Friday, May 14 with Gazetting By-Election Order to be followed by its launch at national level (radio and TV) on May 21 and at Constituency/Ward level the following day.
May 26-June 8 is set for registration, update and inspection of the voters’ register in Nkhata Bay Central and the two Wards — Lalanje and Chikwembere.
June 11-12 is for pre-examination and presentation of nomination papers in Lalanje and Chikwembere Wards while vetting of ballot paper templates by party/candidates’ representatives is set for June 15 from noon to 4pm.
The same June 15 is for Gazette Notice of Taking a Poll while printing of ballot papers shall be done from June 15-23 which are expected to be received by June 25 through Kamuzu International Airport.
June 25-27 is for training of constituency returning officers, presiding officers, polling station operation officers, delivery of polling materials to Constituency and deployment of staff to the polling centres.
The campaign shall end on June 27 while determination of results is expected at July 2.
Electoral materials shall be deposited with Parliament on July 9 while the by-elections postmortem is scheduled from July 12-16.
Meanwhile, MEC has appointed Harris Potani as acting Chief Elections Officer with immediate effect, replacing Sam Alfandika, who resigned last month.
A statement from MEC chairperson, Justice Dr Chifundo Kachale said Potani is the Deputy Chief Elections Officer (Operations) and has been with the Commission for 21 years.
“He joined the Commission as Electoral Services Officer and has risen through the ranks.
“The Commission is inviting all stakeholders to render the necessary support to Mr. Potani as he leads the secretariat in the meantime as modalities to fill the position substantially are underway,” Kachale said on Monday, May 10.
Before joining MEC, Potani worked in the Office of the President and Cabinet under District Administration as District Commissioner up to November 30, 1999
He holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from University of Fort Hare, South Africa and a BA in Public Administration in 1992 from University of Malawi’s Chancellor College.