A governance analyst and University of Malawi (Unima) political commentator have said the embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah position at the helm of MEC is untenable following public discontent.
The civil society organisations (CSOs), electoral stakeholders and the electorate are demanding Ansah’s resignation on allegations that she failed to handle the May 21 presidential elections, which were marred by alleged irregularities and purportedly favouring President Peter Mutharika.
Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was declared the winner, but other contenders for the presidency, notably Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Chilima of UTM are challenging the results at the Constitutional Court.
In comments reported by the press, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa said he believed that Ansah’s status as MEC chairperson was no longer safe.
“Whether what she did was right or wrong, her position is untenable,” said Thindwa.
“The significance of the issues that some people have raised, including the position by the court to validate the petition by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM, shows the concerns are genuine.
“In my view, perception matters most and that the best thing Justice Ansah would do is to honourably resign,” said Thindwa in quotes reported by The Nation daily newspaper on Tuesday.
The paper also quoted governance expert Henry Chingaipe, who said: “If what is happening in the country regarding the role of the MEC chair was happening in a country where democracy and governance systems were strong, Justice Ansah would have stepped down on her own long ago.”
Chingaipe said the problem in Malawi is that “people look at the legality context and not the ethical considerations.”
The governance expert said apart from Ansah being in that position legally, “there is need to consider the integrity of the position she holds and the whole institution.”
Civil rights activist, Rafiq Hajat who is executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) said Ansah is “in an awkward position” as the matter is court.
Speaking in an exclusive interview last week with private broadcaster Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), Ansah described accusations of her personal bias as unfounded and baseless.
During the interview, Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, rejected any calls for her to resign on principle, saying she will wait for the court’s judgement on the matter to decide whether to call it quits.
She described nationwide demonstrations demanding her resignation as “mob justice”.
Recently, Chilima, who served as the country’s vice-president between May 2014 and May 2019, also wrote Ansah a letter in which he said he had evidence that the embattled MEC chairwoman spoke to colleagues at the electoral body to work on re-electing Mutharika and stop the possible ascendancy to the vice-presidency of MCP running mate Muhammad Sidik Mia allegedly for being a Muslim.
During the ZBS interview, Ansah denied both allegations, saying she has no access to MEC staff except the chief elections officer.
She said: “What I can say is that I did my work according to law.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :