Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says the lockdown enforced by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) will not affect operations of the electoral body.
The remarks have been made by MEC Spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa after the sealing of MEC offices in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba on Thursday.
Mwafulirwa has said MEC will continue to operate as guided by the country’s Constitution and in pursuit of its calendar of events.
He assured people of Liwawadzi Ward in Balaka that they will go to the polls as scheduled despite the lockdown.
“Nothing from Malawi Electoral Commission will stop, the people of Liwawadzi need a counselor and its our promise to them that by fifth March, we are going to hold a by-election there. Nothing is going to stop,” he said.
Mwafulirwa observed that the Commissioners have already stated their exit strategy themselves, hence a need for stakeholders to understand.
The HRDC advocates armed with chains and locks descended on MEC offices as they sought to escalate their demand to force MEC Chairperson Justice Dr. Jane Ansah and the other Commissioners to step down.
The keys to the padlock have since been handed over to Malawi Defense Force (MDF).
Speaking to journalists after locking the offices in Lilongwe, HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo, insisted they have opted for a lockdown as a sign of being fed up.
“This is a sign that Malawians have constructively fired Ansah and the Commissioners. The offices are going to be opened after Ansah and the commissioners resign,” he told journalists.
Mtambo added that they have decided to hand the keys to MDF as a gesture of goodwill and a sign that they are not acting out of malice.
He threatened that they would return should MEC officials continue to operate in defiance of their demand to cease operations until the current leadership steps aside.
The HRDC leader hinted that they will demonstrate to Parliament next week to implore on MPs to appoint new commissioners and enable the electoral reforms.
“Next week we plan to go to parliament to demand for new commissioners so that they can start working on the electoral budget, electoral calendar and logistics related to the forthcoming fresh presidential election,” Mtambo added.
The HRDC has been conducting the Anti Jane Ansah demonstrations since last year to force MEC Chair and the commissioners to resign accusing them of mismanaging the 21 May 2019 elections.
The Constitutional Court recently ruled the elections were a sham, a decision that is being challenged at the Supreme Court.