By Jordan Simeon Phiri (MEC Stringer)
The Parliamentary candidature for the youthful Leadership with Compassion Party (LCP) Mr Promise Kaunda in the impending by-election in Karonga Northwest constituency has suffered a huge setback following his rejection by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) due to age.
The stunning announcement was made on Thursday at the constituency’s nerve centre, Maghemo secondary school during the vetting of ballot paper templates by MEC officials and the District Elections’ Supervisory Team (DEST) to ascertain candidates’ eligibility.
According to MEC rejection form going to Kaunda but signed by the Karonga Northwest Constituency Returning Officer (CRO) Ms Janet Chawinga, the reason for the rejection is due to underage, citing the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) 40 section 1.
Reads the communication: “You were born on February 21, 2001. You will be 21 years on February 21, 2022. The Law requires anybody contesting as a Member of Parliament to have attained the age of 21 at the time of presenting one’s nomination papers”.
However, Kaunda played down the issue, saying he will fight on to rectify the anomaly before printing of the ballot papers, saying changes on his year of birth came about due to other circumstances years back.
“My birth certificate shows that I was born in 1999. But when I went to register for my national identity card with the National Registration Bureau (NRB), I reduced my birth year to 2001. However, I will write MEC through the appeal form and attach my birth certificate to authenticate my case,” he said.
Kaunda has since urged his supporters to remain calm while he sorts out issues that are standing his way to victory which he said is imminent.
In a separate interview, LCP President Dr. Sally Kumwenda simply said: “Promise has the birth certificate which indicates his birth as August 21, 1999. So, I am not talking more about that, we just need to follow the protocols advised by MEC otherwise I am not really surprised with the rejection. I leave the situation in God’s hands”.
However, Karonga District Returning Officer who is also the acting District Commission David Gondwe said the vetting process went well and eight candidates out of nine have been approved save for one whose age is below the minimum age.
He said: “The process went on well. We had some hitches with one candidate who is below 21 and that has been documented for MEC to act and advise according to the reaction that the candidate will give through the appeal forms”.
In an interview on Friday, a Chancellor College based law expert Professor Garton Kamchedzera hinted that continued change of one’s birth dates is a criminal offense which is prosecutable.
He sad: “If one fraudulently alters birth dates information to systematically suit situairions, he or she is committing an offence which is criminal in nature. So, the onus is on the candidate to prove the authenticity of his birth certificate otherwise giving conflicting dates of birth is wrong and if anything the national identity card should used because its information was given under oath”.
MEC spokesperson Mr Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the Commission will only address issues documented during the vetting exercise when it receives all complaints from the concerned and affected candidates in conformity with the electoral laws.