By Watipaso Mzungu

Namiwa: This development is not only disastrous, but very catastrophic

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has warned that taxpayers risk paying a huge price for the mistakes the Tonse government has allegedly made by firing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-sponsored Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioners, Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje.

On Tuesday this week, through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), announced the rescission of the appointment of Mathanga and Kunje, citing the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which found them incompetent in the historical Presidential Elections Case.

The dismissal came at the back of a court case, which the two Commissioners initiated to challenge President Lazarus Chakwera’s decision to withhold their letters of appointment.

But before the court could give its ruling on the matter, Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi, told the nation on Tuesday the government had rescinded appointment of Mathanga and Kunje because they are incompetent.

The two Commissioners have vowed to challenge the rescission of their appointments in the court.

And in his reaction to the latest development, CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa warned that the taxpayers risk paying a very huge price should the two Commissioners successfully defend their appointments in the court of law.

Namiwa, who addressed journalists in Lilongwe on Thursday afternoon, backed the decision by DPP and the aggrieved Commissioners to move the courts in order to clear the legal quandary the country has found itself in.

“CDEDI believes that doing so would put the matter to rest, once and for all, since the blame game between the executive arm of government and the office of the Attorney General (AG) has dragged for far too long, without any tangible action. It is for this reason that CDEDI is challenging both the opposition DPP and the two MEC Commissioners to live by their word and indeed move the courts on the matter, since the two parties have publicly expressed interest to do so, with the former ruling party going as far as claiming that the June 23, 2020 court sanctioned Fresh Presidential Elections (FPE) risk being nullified, following the firing of the two MEC Commissioners by President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera,” said Namiwa.

He said his organization CDEDI has been following the events surrounding the legal crisis in stemming from the status of the two commissioners.

Namiwa said on February 17, 2021, CDEDI wrote President Chakwera, warning him to tread carefully on the issues involving the appointment of the two MEC Commissioners.

CDEDI further reminded Chakwera to respect the rule of law, with reference to both the Republican Constitution, as well his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) manifesto and constitution, in line with the professional legal opinion from the Attorney General, Dr. Chikosa Silungwe on the same issue.

“Today, Malawians are witnesses of the gross impunity and executive arrogance that is being exuded by President Chakwera, who has, and continues to ignore and disrespect professional advice from constitutional offices such as the AG’s office. This development is not only disastrous, but very catastrophic, because should the courts nullify the June 23 FPE, the country will again go to the polls for the third time in a space of three years. On the other hand, the taxpayers also risk paying a very huge price through their nose, should the two Commissioners successfully defend their appointments in the court of law,” he said.

The human rights activist said it is sad that Malawi’s image is being bruised and brutally battered, following ‘this unnecessary public fight between the executive arm of government and the AG’s office, which CDEDI believes is as a result of some selfish political interests, on the part of the President’.

“It is against this background that CDEDI is challenging the judiciary to consider expediting the hearing on the matters so that Malawi should move on as a country. As we have warned before, CDEDI seems to have been vindicated by the DPP, which is of the view that Dr. Chakwera has shot himself in the foot by his decision to fire the two commissioners that were part and parcel of the decisions made by the current cohort 6 of the MEC, including the election of the incumbent president, and all the by-elections held in various constituencies and wards across the country. Let the courts bring this matter to rest, once and for all. The time for doing this is now,” emphasized Namiwa.

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