Embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has said she is not going to resign from her position unless the Supreme Court of Appeal upholds the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgement on February 3 2020 which found that evidence of fraud and malpractice meant the results of the presidential poll could not be allowed to stand.
Initially, Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said when calls for her to resign started, that she would abdicate from her officer at the commission if the ConCourt finds her in the wrong.
But despite the court faulted MEC, defiant Ansah told Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (PAC) that the commission appealed the ruling of ConCourt because it was not the final arbiter and they were rejecting its findings.
“There are issues the commission does not agree with. There is need for second eye-which is the Appeal Court,” Ansah said.
She said MEC declared the winner based on the current electoral law, saying since 1994, when Malawi returned to multiparty democracy, the vote has been determined by first-past-past-the-post (FPTP) in which the candidate with most votes wins regardless of whether they receive a majority of support.
FPTP, or winner takes it all, means one with more votes is a winner but the judges’ suggestion in the ruling was that none of the presidential candidates could have won because none of them received over 50%.
The law requires the victor to receive a majority. This was a radical alternative legal interpretation of Malawi’s constitution and could require the country to amend its Elections Act.
Ansah said if the “Supreme Court finds us wrong, I will resign”.
Former Attorney General and one of Malawi’s finest lawyers Ralph Kasambara has described Ansah’s stand as “taking Malawians for fools.”
The MEC chairperson said she saw nothing wrong in her commission accepting sheets that were altered with a correction fluid, widely known for the famous brand Tipp-Ex.
She defended her commission for accepting alteration of results sheets and the general results management system, claiming the results on the tally sheets were not altered but corrected.
“Tippex was used [for positive purposes] to correct errors,” she said.
But one of the legislators Mark Katsonga Phiri grilled Ansah whether Tippex deletes or corrects in which the MEC chairwoman said the white-out fluid “deletes” and that one cannot see what’s been deleted.
The Constitutional Court also found that less than a third of the results from the more than 5,000 polling stations had been certified by the auditors by the time Ansah declared Mutharika winner of the presidential race.
Another MEC member Mary Nkosi, who appeared before the committee on Monday, admitted that the commission mishandled the contentious elections.
Nkosi claimed Ansah went behind the commissioners’ back and authorised altered result sheets.
“I did not see the justification to this. But there was an apparent rush to have the results put together and announced,” she said. “It was a big let-down”.
The inquiry follows a February 3 2020 order of a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over irregularities and mandated Parliament to assess the commissioners’ competences.
On Tuesday, commissioners Yahaya M’madi, Moffat Banda, Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga appeared before the committee at Parliament Building in Lilongwe. They followed in the footsteps of Nkosi and Elvey Mtafu on Monday.
Another commissioner Rev. Killion Mgawi was expected to appear before PAC of Parliament while commissioner Reverend Clifford Baloyi was reportedly out of the country seeking medical attention.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :