After much political bickering on the date for the fresh poll in Malawi, Parliament on Tuesday passed Resolution to gazette June 23 as the date for the election.
The new Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) team also took oath of office on Tuesday. The new team comprises High Court Judge Chifundo Kachale as the new chairperson replacing Justice Jane Ansah who recently tendered her resignation.
The appointment of the new Commission was another bone of contention as Mutharika was heavily criticized for maintaining two members namely, Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje, from the previous commission which the High Court and Parliament declared incompetent.
However, the endorsement of the fresh poll date and the swearing-in of the new MEC is a sure signal that the country will conduct the fresh election within the 150 days as ordered by the High Court in its Feb. 3 judgment.
But the lingering threat that Malawi faces as it goes to the poll is COVID-19 which has claimed four lives and affected over 450 people in the country since April 2 when the first cases were reported.
President Mutharika, who has not been seen publicly campaigning vigorously like the opposition, recently shot a warning against holding the election under the prevailing circumstances.
“Let us admit that we have a dilemma between going to an election too soon and preventing the spreading of coronavirus…
Parliament must make its voice heard before the people,” Mutharika said in his televised address to Parliament on June 5. But with the Parliament’s endorsement of June 23 as the polling date for the fresh election, the battle lines are drawn.
Mutharika is facing opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera in the June 23 fresh election and the political campaign for the presidency has just reached its peak.