A tripartite meeting of the Commission, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy Board and the Covid-19 Task Force has agreed that the Commission should proceed with holding of by-elections in the four areas that are vacant.
The Commission called for the meeting on Saturday, 11 September 2021 in Blantyre to review the status of the Covid-19 situation in the current and reflect whether it was possible to hold by-elections.
The meeting was a follow-up to the one held on 9 August, 2021 in Lilongwe during which the stakeholders had agreed to recommend to the office of the Speaker to defer by-elections to October due to the increasing cases of Covid-19.
During the meeting on Saturday, the Presidential Task Force Co-chairperson, Hon Khumbize Chiponda, who is also the Minister of Health, informed the gathering that there has been a progressive downward trend on the number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases, those admitted to treatment units, deaths, and positivity rates over the past three weeks.
“It was also observed that the number of patients recovering from the disease is increasing. I would like to inform the nation that we are now in Level 2 of the pandemic,” she said.
She said among the revised measures, the Task Force had unbanned holding of political rallies and also allowed the public gatherings up to 250 people.
Hon Chiponda said basing on past behaviour of the virus, if there would be any wave coming, it would be in November. However, she urged stakeholders to be flexible that if something props up the measures might be revised.
“So for now it is possible to hold the by-elections. We will inform all District Health Officers to pay special attention to all by-election areas. We can even open vaccination sites just to ensure that we increase the vaccine uptake in these areas,” she said.
The Minister of Health added, “we are comforted by the fact that the MEC has held by-elections in a Covid-19 environment before. And as a Task Force we kept a close eye on the by-election areas with anticipation that the number of cases might rise because of the electoral and campaign activities but that was not the case”.
She applauded the MEC for putting in place elaborate Covid-19 preventive measures during registration and polling periods.
In her remarks, chairperson of the CMD board, Dr Patricia Kaliati welcomed the recommendation and promised that political parties will put in place preventive measures during their activities.
“A message to my fellow politicians is that the lowering of Covid-19 figures does not mean that we are out of the woods. The pandemic appears to be enjoying working in waves.
Honourable Kaliati appealed to politicians that as much as possible they should try to avoid further worsening the situation.
“We should use all our mediums to encourage people to get vaccinated as that remains our sure way of breaking the chain,” she emphasised.
Responding to the remarks, MEC Chairman, Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale hailed the continued cordial working relationship that exists between MEC, the COVID-19 Taskforce and the CMD Board.
“I would like to point express my sincere appreciation to the CMD board for understanding when there was a need to have the by-elections postponed due to the threat of the pandemic previously. It shows that as politicians, you have the people’s welfare at heart”, he said.
The MEC Chairman also thanked the COVID-19 Taskforce for the provision of masks and the special arrangement to have vaccination centres at the polling stations.
The Commission is expected to announce dates of holing by-elections in Nkhotakota North East, Dedza Central East and Mzimba East Constituencies and Chimwalire Ward in Balaka South Constituency.