With financial support from the European Union Democratic Governance Programme (EU DGP), the Malawi Electoral Commission has organized a three day in-house induction for the new eight Commissioners who were appointed on June 5, 2016.
Speaking when he officially opened the induction on Monday, 11th July, 2016 at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre, MEC chairman, Justice Maxon Mbendera SC advised the Commissioners to uphold the Constitution and be nonpartisan in their work.
“The duty for each one of us is to respect and uphold the Constitution and the subsidiary legislations, it is only then that we shall meet the aspirations of the people of Malawi.
“You might have held various political lineages but here we expect you to rise above party ideologies and serve the interests of the nation in its diversified form. The law expects the Commission to be independent in the carrying out of its duties and you will be expected to be the flag carriers of that independence,” he said.
Justice Mbendera SC said the work of the Commission transcend beyond elections as it had bearing on, peace, security and economic development of the country.
“We have examples in the world over of how countries have been thrown into turmoil and internal disturbances because of mismanaged electoral processes,” he explained.
The MEC chairman then congratulated the Commissioners saying their appointment demonstrated the trust the appointing authority, and all those who were consulted, had in them that they can contribute to the upholding of our democracy through delivery of credible elections.
“To serve as a Commissioner is a calling which goes beyond an appointment. You will not only be required to be, but you should be seen to be independent, professional, honest, non-partisan, impartial, objective and apolitical.
“We are working in an environment where everything is treated with suspicion and contempt, in some cases unduly. You will be required to rise and operate at a higher level of professionalism, integrity and morality,” he said.
He thanked the EU DGP for the financial support to conduct this induction programme saying since May 2014, they have been the biggest partner to MEC, besides the basket fund managed by UNDP.
“EU DGP has funded several BRIDGE courses including the Train the Facilitator (TTF) course which we held in Mulanje last month in June 2016. I understand that Commissioners will also be undergoing an Introduction to Elections Administration BRIDGE course with the support from the same EU DGP. This is quite commendable and we could not ask for a better partner than this,” he said.
In his remarks the Programme Manager for EU DGP, Orison Chaponda congratulated MEC for being one of the top 3 best performing beneficiary institutions which are getting support from the programme.
“I should commend MEC. The staff we have interacted with under the EU DGP have been accountable with resources we give them. They have been accessible and collaborative.
“They have come always come up with responses and explanations on all issues we raise with them. They always invite us to participate in their activities. This is a measure of confidence that the things they are dealing with us are done transparently and as agreed,” he said.
Chaponda urged other development partners to learn from the approach the EU DGP has taken.
“Maybe I can call on those that have always had issues with the MEC they should come and learn from EU DGP how we have managed to work with MEC so that they also don’t have issues. We are working with nine beneficiary institutions and MEC is in the top three of those that are doing fine in accountability and implementation,” he said.