Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has described as unfortunate and worrisome the prolonged existence of five vacant senior positions at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) which it noted is an indication that it does not have adequate capacity to handle elections.
Currently, MEC has vacancies in the crucial positions of Chief Elections Officer following the departure of Sam Alufandika in April 2021.
Other vacant positions are those of Deputy Chief Elections Officer responsible for Finance and Administration, Director of Administration and Human Resources, Director of Electoral Services and that of the Procurement Manager.
CHRR Executive Director Micheal Kaiyatsa expressed concern over the development particularly coming in the run up to 2025 elections preparations adding that it should have been up to full capacity to ensure adequate provisions are in place for the next polls.
“This is not in order; the period is just too much. MEC is a crucial institution, it’s a key institution when it comes to elections and for the institution to take such a long period of time to fill such critical positions, it is actually a sign that maybe there’s lack of seriousness on the part of MEC to fill up these positions which is quite unfortunate,” he said.
But Director of Media and Public Relations at the Commission Sangwani Mwafulirwa assured that its operations have not been affected following vacancies of five of its executive management members.
He indicated that officers were appointed to act in these positions so that activities of the Commission are not affected.
Despite advertising for these vacancies a couple of months ago, the positions are yet to be filled.
“The Commission advertised the vacancies, shortlisted and has finished conducting the interviews. Now it is working on the recruitment process which includes making job offers to the successful candidates.
“Though it may be said that some time has passed, but be assured that the operations of the Commission have not been affected because there were officers in acting capacity,” assured Mwafulirwa.
He further acknowledged there have been a number of important activities taking place within the electoral body that also required full attention and presence of the Commissioners citing by-elections and the boundary review process.
A statement from MEC chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale indicated that Alfandika had already proceeded on leave on his accrued annual days pending the effective operation of the resignation.
“In the meantime, the Commission shall be meeting to discuss the relevant modalities for filling the vacancy arising from this development, bearing in mind the critical role of this office in the effective discharge of our business at all levels” wrote Kachale.
The former CEO who manned the disputed 2019 Tripartite elections which were later nullified by the Constitutional Court, is now with the United Nations as a Project Coordinator for Elections.