Originally published in: Times Malawi on Jan. 9, 2019, 6:02 p.m.
By Faith Kamtambe:
Eight aspiring presidential candidates have collected nomination papers ahead of the May 21 Tripartite Elections, Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has confirmed.
President Peter Mutharika, Democratic Progressive Party torch-bearer, has collected the nomination papers just like main opposition Malawi Congress Party’s leader Lazarus Chakwera, People’s Party’s Joyce Banda, Saulos Chilima for UTM, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD), independents Henry Mbewe, Smart Swira and Baxter Natulu.
However, United Democratic Front president, Atupele Muluzi, who is also Health Minister, is yet to collect the nomination papers and he still has time to do so.
Muluzi was not readily available for a comment yesterday.
The window for collecting the papers remains open until next month.
Mec Spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, on Monday explained the procedure for nominations.
“It should be stated that just collecting a nomination paper does not make one a candidate. They need to fill it and submit back to the commission between February 4 and 8. Presidential candidates will submit their nomination papers to the commission at the Comesa Hall in Blantyre while parliamentary and Local Government candidates will submit their nomination papers to their constituency returning officers to be stationed in the constituency,” Mwafulirwa said.
A few days ago, Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah, also confirmed that the presidential aspirants have collected nomination papers.
Ansah was asked on whether Kuwani has become the first aspiring president to pay his nomination fees of K2 million ahead of the elections.
Mec has come under fire for pegging nomination fees for parliamentary and presidential candidates at K500,000 and K2 million, respectively, ahead of elections.
But Kuwani has said he sees no problem for aspiring presidents to cough K2 million, considering that Mec faces financial challenges.
“I would say it depends on how you see it. In the first place, if someone has an agenda, you are focused on attaining the ultimate goal. So, as MMD, I would say whether the funds are refundable or not, we are motivated by our agenda,” he said.
A Mec deposit slip which The Daily Times has seen indicates that Kuwani deposited the money into the commission’s commercial bank account in Blantyre on Saturday.
Stakeholders accuse Mec of making the fees non-refundable as opposed to previous general elections when the body used to refund candidates that had amassed a certain percentage of valid votes cast.
Last week, Ansah issued a press statement giving guidelines on how aspiring candidates can collect and submit nomination papers.
“All aspiring candidates who will contest on political party tickets will get nomination papers through their party secretaries general or any party officer designated to do so.
“All independent candidates for parliamentary and Local Government elections will collect nomination papers from their respective constituency returning officers, district commissioners or chief executives of the councils from January 3 to February 8 2019.
“All presidential candidates, party or independent, will collect their nomination papers from the Chief Elections Officer at Mec head office from January 3 to February 8 2019,” the press release states.
The process of collecting nomination papers started on January 3.