The Political Science Association of Malawi (PSA) has grudgingly welcomed resignation of the embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansahand has demanded that President Peter Mutharika should move with haste to replace her together with the whole team of Commissioners.
The association has also cautioned Mutharika against holding the country at ransom by either being elusive on the matter or continuing with his dilly-dallying tactics on these urgent matters of national interest.
The PSA president Joseph Chunga and his secretary general Ernest Thindwa, in a scathing statement issued on Friday seen by Nyasa Times, states that they strongly hold that the current crop of Commissioners has no legal, technical or moral basis to handle fresh elections following their gross mismanagement of May 19, 2020 Presidential elections.
“It is in this regard that we at PSA propose that all commissioners should immediately follow the Chairperson out of MEC to afford a fresh team enough time to deliver free, fair and credible elections. The President should, as a matter of urgency, move to assemble a team of commissioners that will run the next election with legitimacy in the eyes of all contestants and Malawians,” Chunga and Thindwa say in the statement.
They have also urged the Commissioners to desist from uttering words that undermine the Judiciary as has been the case with one of the MEC Commissioners immediately after the Supreme Court ruling.
Apparently, the duo is referring to the utterances Commissioner Linda Kunje made after the Supreme Court of Appeal made after the highest court in the land delivered its judgment in the appeal.
The association further faults Mutharika for withholding assent to the electoral law bills, which has resulted in uncertainty on the future of the fresh presidential election (FPE).
Chunga and Thindwa stress that FPE is not a General Clection and therefore is not covered by section 67 (1) of the Constitution.
“We believe that the National Assembly was right by providing for a date of the FPE in an ordinary Bill. The Bill does not amount to amending the Constitution through the backdoor as the president opined in his note of reasons for withholding assent. We further note that presidential assent to the bills was, in part, because the President disagreed with the Constitutional Court’s determination on the meaning of the word ‘majority’ and had appealed against it,” they say.
“Suffice to say that the Supreme Court upheld the interpretation of the Constitutional Court that for the presidential election, the word majority means at least 50 per cent of the total valid votes plus one more vote. Thus, there are no valid and outstanding reasons for withholding presidential assent.
“After all, as previously observed by an eminent legal scholar Professor Danwood Chirwa, the power to sign Bills into law doesn’t give the President judicial authority to decide what law is constitutional or what law is unconstitutional. That authority belongs to the court and indeed the Supreme Court of Appeal has just done that in the process putting the matter to rest,” they add.
They association recommends that, following the landmark Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that upheld the High Court verdict, there should be an immediate convening of the National Assembly to discuss all urgent matters relating to the fresh elections.
It also calls upon the national Assembly to revise the Bill by changing the polling day for FPE from 19th May 2020 to 23rd June 2020 as recently proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament.
“We take the view that it is feasible to have results of the fresh Presidential elections by 25th June 2020 providing a enough time for resolution of complaints and eventually, the swearing in ceremony can happen by3rd July 2020 as ordered by the Supreme Court. The Bill should be sent to the President for mandatory Presidential Assent as required under sections 73(3) and 73(4) of the Constitution.
“In this regard, we call upon President Arthur Peter Mutharika to rise above personal pride and party interests and embrace statesmanship by signing off the Bills to ensure that FPE proceeds in an environment of legal certainty and predictability and to avoid reinforcing the public perception of continued contestation of the Supreme Court judgment and inclinations to subvert constitutionalism,” the association states.
It further calls upon the National Assembly to postpone consideration of any Constitutional Amendment Bills until after the fresh elections and a legitimately elected President has taken office.
It says these should be dealt with as part of a broad constitutional review, the kind of which have been sadly frustrated over the past two decades.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :