Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Malawi Government's Statement on The Appointment of Vice-President Khumbo Kachali as Overseer of the Electoral Commission


Her Excellency the President, Mrs Joyce Banda, has listened carefully to the various voices expressing concern over the delegation by her to the Vice President, Right Honourable Khumbo Kachali, of her own role and responsibilities towards the Electoral Commision.

Her Excellency the President wishes to state very categorically that she is the first to insist upon the independence, neutrality, and non-partisanship of the Electoral Commission, in order for the Commission to deliver for our nation free, fair and credible elections.  Further, Her Excellency the President is the first to acknowledge that free, fair and credible elections are the foundation of our democracy and a very critical ingredient for peace and stability in our nation.

Therefore the undermining of the Electoral Commission’s independence, neutrality and non-partisanship by any person, is the last thing Her Excellency the President would tolerate in this nation.

As all Malawians know, the framers of our Constitution and the Electoral Commission Act were clear about the need for this nation to have an Electoral Commission that is independent, neutral and non-partisan.  Adequate safeguards are provided for in the language of the law and in practice, to achieve the intentions manifest in the Constitution and the law.  The language of the Constitution and the Electoral Commission Act are uncompromising.  In stipulating the only executive role, Section 6(1) of the Electoral Commission Act states as follows:

“Every individual member and employee of the Commission shall perform the functions and exercise the powers provided for in this Act independent of the direction or interference of
  1. any public office
  2. any organ of the government
  3. any political party
  4. any candidate
  5. any person whosoever or organisation whatsoever
Provided that for the purposes only of accountability, the commission shall be answerable, and report directly, to the President on the overall fulfillment of the functions and powers of the Commission”.

Her Excellency wishes the Malawi nation to know that she and her government will fully respect this law.  Similarly, she calls upon all political parties, politicians and other stakeholders to fully respect this law.

Section 89(6) of the Constitution authorises the President, without limitation, to delegate any of her powers and functions.  The specific language of Section 89(6) of the Constitution is as follows:
“The powers and functions of the President shall be exercised by him or her personally or by a member of the Cabinet or by a government official to whom the President has delegated such power in writing”. 

In delegating to the Right Honourable Vice President the role of the President specified in Section 6 of the Electoral Commission Act, the President was not assigning to the Vice President a function different from the one specified in the law.  As must be clear to everyone, the President cannot give to anyone powers that she herself does not possess.

However, notwithstanding the clarity of the law, and although Her Excellency the President is convinced that the Right Honourable Vice President would have discharged the role delegated to him in a manner consistent with the law, she is of the opinion that the greater national good will be better served by allaying the concerns, fears and anxieties expressed by various Malawians and stakeholders.  Accordingly, the President has directed that the Presidential role provided for in Section 6 of the Electoral Commission Act shall no longer be exercised by the Right Honourable Vice President.

Moses Kunkuyu Kalongashawa, MP
18 December, 2012

The Malawi Government has followed with keen interest the healthy debate on the oversight role that Right Honourable Khumbo Kachali, Vice president of the Republic of Malawi assumed at the Electoral Commission in the recent cabinet that Her Excellency the President appointed on 6 December 2012.  The Government wishes to inform the public that Her Excellency the President will address the nation on the matter within the next few days.  The Minister of Information will keep the nation informed of further developments on this matter.

Hon. Moses Kunkuyu Kalongashawa, MP
Minister of Information
13th December, 2012

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