TOO LATE TO SAVE JERUSALEM: Chakwera Summons Silungwe

Visibly angry President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday summoned Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe hours after the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) saga.

The meeting came after MEC said with the advice from the Attorney General – government chief legal advisor – that following government’s decision to rescind the appointment of two Commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje, the commission can no longer discharge its duties..

Attorney General advised that MEC cannot continue to implement its activities as it has no legal authority or basis until Section 75 (1) of the Constitution has been complied with.

Section 75 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that there shall be an Electoral Commission which shall consist of a Chairman who shall be a Judge nominated in that behalf by the Judicial Service Commission and such other members, not being less than six, as may be appointed in accordance with an Act of Parliament.

On June 7 2020, former President Peter Mutharika appointed Justice Kachale as Chairperson. Other Commissioners were Arthur Nanthuru, Steve Duwa, Mathanga, Kunje, Anthony Mukumbwa and Olivia Liwewe.

With Mathanga and Kunje’s appointment rescinded, it means the Commission is left with four Commissioners.

Two legal scholars faulted government’s decision to dismiss Mathanga and Kunje as commissioners of the MEC, opining that the two are at liberty to challenge the decision in court.

MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi, said: “In view of this development and advice [from the AG], the commission has henceforth no legal authority or basis to continue implementing its activities which become suspended by operation of the law until further notice.”

In its communication, the OPC purported that Mathanga and Kunje were adjudged incompetent by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court in the May 21 2019 Presidential Election Nullification Case.

However, Mathanga argues that the Supreme Court did not find their commission to be incompetent.

In August 2020, Silungwe advised government to formally write appointment letters to the two after OPC sought legal advice on three issues, including the legality of the appointment of the two commissioners after the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament recommended their dismissal.

President Lazarus Chakwera is also on record as having said that he would not endorse letters of appointment for the two because they were part of an incompetent commission that managed the May 21 2019 presidential election. (Nyasa Times)

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