By Dickson Jere
In another dramatic turn of events, the Malawi Supreme Court has refused to defer the Presidential elections due in July despite concerns of coronavirus by the Electoral Commission.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) had made an urgent application to Court asking for permission to extend the 150-day period given by the “Constitutional Court” to hold fresh presidential elections but the Chief Justice declined the request saying doing so will amount to determining an appeal before it. The presidential elections won by President Peter Mutharika was nullified by the Court and ordered that fresh elections be held by July 2020.
The refusal means MEC must organize presidential elections by July 2, 2020 despite the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The executive in Malawi has been under intense difficulties to copy with the various court decisions going against it especially during the Covid 19 period. Last week, the Malawi High Court stopped the planned lockdown by President Peter Matharika on the grounds that the move will adversely affect the poor who live on “hands to mouth”. Another High Court Judge recently blocked the deportation of Chinese tourists suspected of having Coronavirus saying the move was discriminatory!
So much of judicial activism in Malawi but what is impressive is the speed in which these decisions are handed down by the courts – rightly or wrongly – it appears the Malawi judiciary is getting international recognition.