Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) which have organised nationwide mass protests on June 20 to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and other commissioners to resign have been criticised that their planned demonstrations are “premature and ill-timed.”
The Catholic University-based political scientist Nandin Patel and a leading daily newspaper, The Nation, in its editorial comment have asked asked for electoral stakeholders to first wait for court ruling on the election case results before condemning Ansah.
HRDC’s demand comes two days after UTM Party president Saulos Chilima, who is the country’s immediate past vice-president, added his voice to calls for the immediate resignation of Ansah on Friday for allegedly failing the nation.
During a news conference in Lilongwe on Friday, Chilima, who finished third with slightly over one million votes, said his party has gathered evidence of misconduct by the head of the electoral body.
But in its extended coverage of the mass protests and calls for Ansah to quit, The Nation, editorial comment stated that the CSOs and parties should give justice a chance.
The paper pointed out that despite the fact that the country’s supreme law of the law – the Constitution – gives Malawians rights, including freedom of assembly and expression, the conduct of taking to the streets to protest the results when there is a court case pending to be premature.
It said that since the matter of electoral dispute is in court and the judiciary has since appointed a five judge panel to sit as a Constitutional Court, the planned demonstrations are “premature and ill-timed.”
Instead of taking to the streets, the daily implore the respective leadership of the CSOs and political parties to “ desist from engaging in mob justice tactic is that can easily be perceived as exerting undue pressure on the justice system.”
Other observers have also asked the CSO’s not to jump into so many protests when they have not yet taken to the streets as promised against business mogul Abdul Karim Batawarara’s Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company over a signed uniform supply contracts with the immigration department in 2012 when they want to be paid over K54 billion when their contracts’ total price was just over K9 billion.
“The CSOs promised to hold demonstrations on this. What happened that they didn’t take to the streets. They need to be investigated ,” remarked Atwell Kabungwe in Lilongwe.
Meanwhile, Catholic University-based political scientist Nandin Patel, also quashes for anti-Ansah demonstrations and demand for her resignation until the court makes its determination.
“Look, let’s look at elections as a whole process, everyone says from registration to voting, the process went well. I don’t deny that there have been irregularities but look, the matters are in court and let’s wait to see the court outcome first and then that should inform the calls for her to resign or not,” said Patel in quotes reported by the press.
University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri also expressed reservations on the timing of the demonstrations.
Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the Constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate anytime provided the right procedures are followed but advised that the demonstrations should have waited for the court’s decision since the courts are already handling it.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the police are ready to provide security for the demonstrators once clearance has been given by relevant authorities for the planned demonstrations to proceed.
In Lilongwe, HRDC plans the demonstrations to start from Lilongwe Community Centre ground through Mchesi-Kamuzu Central Hospital-Parliament to Civic Offices while in Blantyre, the planned route is from Kamuzu Stadium upper ground through Masauko Chipembere Highway to the Blantyre district commissioner’s office.
In Mzuzu, the demonstration is scheduled to start from Katoto via Mzuzu Clock Tower to the Mzuzu City Council Civic Offices and in Zomba from the community ground through Mponda Primary School ground to Zomba District Council offices.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :