A law expert has said demands for Malawi Election Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to abdicate from her office should be extended to all her commissioners on claims that the May 21 presidential elections were fraudulently managed and the opposition claims were rigged.
There have been fevered protests pushing for Ansah’s ouster organised by civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) who seem to be aligned with the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led by Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party led by the country’s former Vice President Saulos Chilima.
The electoral body, which declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won re-election with 39 percent, denies any vote-rigging.
Both Chakwera and Chilima have been challenging the election results in court and calling for a re-run.
But private practice lawyer Justin Dzonzi, in quotes reported by the local press has wondered as to why only the MEC chairperson is being taken to task when there is a whole list of people who might have been involved in alleged ‘messing up of the elections.’
He argued that the contribution other made by the commissioners is far much less than the contribution other officers such as chief elections officer, constituency returning officers, head of IT, auditors and others made who he also faulted for approving contested results.
“MEC commissioners must have reached a consensus to approve the contested results and the fact that no commissioner objected them, then they all must be judged the same way,” explained Dzonzi, who is also executive director of Justice Link.
Legal experts have also pointed to the Constitution —the supreme law of the land—that gives a lee way to remove Ansah.
Section 75(4) of the Constitution states that a member of MEC may be removed from office by the President on the recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) on grounds of incapacity or incompetence in the performance of duties of that office.
Malawi Law Society honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde has described the what Section 75 (4) stipulates as “viable process” to remove any MEC commissioner.
Ansah, a judge at the Supreme Court of Appeal, is on record saying that those calling for her resignation need to operate within the confinement of the law.
The embattled MEC chair has said she will resign is the Constitutional Court find her supervision of the electios was below the expected standard.
In the disputed elections, Chakwera was a close second with 35 percent while Chilima was third with 20 percent.