Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera has courted fire to himself over his remarks that he had pressure from former President Joyce Banda over management of the May 20 Tripartite Elections and that the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) was also instructed to storm the national tally centre at Comesa Hall in Blantyre in order to force a recount.
The country’s civil society organisations are pushing for investigations over the remarks which they say if true smack of power abuse on the part of the former president.
In an interview with one of the country’s private television station Times TV, Mbendera said that if Joyce Banda’s push was successful it could have been a coup .
In a joint statement Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) have said that there was need for thorough investigations on Mbendera’s claims.
Mbendera told the Times TV that the former president ordered the MDF to push MEC to conduct vote recount, the exercise that was challenged a number of times through court injunctions. Mbendera himself also said that he did not succumb to the pressure as it was against the country’s laws.
“We at CHRR and Cedep implore the relevant authorities to conduct swift, thorough investigations into the claims so that all Malawians of good will are kept abreast of the truth about what happened during the highly controversial tripartite elections,” states the two organisations in a statement signed by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence, CHRR and Cedep executive directors, respectively.
CHRR and Cedep said the allegation smacks of power abuse, which Malawians should guard against.
They also expressed surprise at the period that has elapsed from the time the elections were made to the time when the allegation has been made.
The two organisations have also described Mbendera’s action as putting him in an irrelevant position to the country’s democratic process and called on him to step down.
“CHRR and Cedep are surprised that four months down the line, the MEC chairperson and the rest of his team are still at the helm of the commission despite the shortfalls that rendered their competence and credibility questionable,” reads the statement.
The Islamic Commission for Justice and Peace (ICJF) also questioned Mbendera’s motive behind the allegations he made.
A statement signed by ICJF secretary general Hassan Chimwala, called on MEC to sort out all the problems so that future elections are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.
Mbendera has since refused to comment on the calls.
During the TV interview Mbendera : “It would have been a coup d’tat for the president to declare an election null and void.”
The May 20 elections were riddled with a variety of irregularities and violence that in some instances led to postponement of polling in some centres in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
The situation led to the extension of the voting beyond a single day and delay by MEC to announce official results.
The irregularities also led to some political parties claiming the elections were rigged, an observation which Mbendera, the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) and the European Union Election Observer team, among other electoral players, have since dismissed.
The violence that ensued in some areas left one person dead.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :