Beleaguered Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioner Moffat Banda has told Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament that he will not resign despite accepting a compromised electoral system which the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) found when it annulled the 2019 ppresidential elections.
Banda was appearing before PAC inquiry on Tuesday at Parliament Building in Lilongwe, broadcast live on radio, and admitted that the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections had been incompetently managed.
He told the inquiry assessing MEC’s competence that he takes responsibility of some mistakes made during May 21 2019 elections but he is not going to resign.
“I will not resign not because I am pompus but I have done my part. I think I have carried by services in a degree of satisfaction,” baid Banda who chairs the media committee of the electoral body.
“I am not answering in that way so as to provoke the situation,” he said after being made aware of the public opinion towards the electoral body.
Banda also confirmed what another commissioner bishop Mary Nkosi testified that commissioners were made to sign for presidential election results a day after chairperson Jane Ansah had already declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the winner.
Legislators asked Banda what time he signed the declaration of results in the presidential election. He said it was “in the morning of the day the president was going to be sworn-in.”
Pressed on why the results were announced before commissioners had signed, Banda claimed the commissioner had discussed before and MEC Chairperson said “it was late and did not want to labour us. So we agreed to sign in the morning after results were announced.”
His comments were contrary to what Nkosi said. Nkosi, a former Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) deputy governor appointed commissioner on June 6 2016, indicated the signing of the results before President’s swearing-in ceremony was in a way of ambush.
Nkosi also told the inquiry that many key decisions were made by chairperson Ansah, chief elections officer Sam Alfandika and “some commissioners” – possibly Banda – without the knowledge of other commissioners.
Banda said he took part in “all decisions made at meetings that I attended”, adding “ I may not have attended all meetings but those that I attended, I took part in making decisions.”
On results that were recorded on ordinary papers and not those printed in Dubai, Commissioner Banda says he only saw results on original papers and didn’t see any results on ordinary papers
Banda said: “When we were getting results, the transmission and everything went on very well. When I saw tippexed papers and duplicates I raised the questions but what surprised me is that auditors had stamped and signed.”
On tippexed results sheets, Banda said the commission decided to use the tally sheets after comparative analysis with results at the stream tally center.
He also said the decision to use Tippex was made to avoid infringing rights of presidential candidates as the issue of the Tippex was realised when one of the presidential candidates was leading.
‘’I took part in all decisions that the commission took. I at some point questioned why tippex and duplicate sheets were used. I told fellow commissioners that we were being cheated. I asked that we should not continue receiving those results,” said Banda adding that all commissioners had no access to the results management system as they were going through the tally sheets manually.
Commissioner Banda also told the inquiry that 2014 elections , which president Joyce Banda claimed were fraudulent when she lost, were also tippexed.
The Constitutional Court ruling of February 3, 2020 ordered, among other things, that PAC should inquire into the competency of the current MEC commissioners to conduct the country’s fresh election following the nullification of the May 21, 2019 presidential polls.
MEC was so heavily criticised in the findings of the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court as well as tasked to improve its capacity and arrange more credible elections.
The ruling established that the voting process had been marred by serious irregularities. The electoral commission had also failed to address complaints before announcing results. Tally sheets lacked monitor signatures, and several accepted tally sheets had been corrected using Tipp-Ex.
The court annulled the election and called for fresh elections within 150 days. Equally important, it established that parliament should move to properly enact section 80(2) of the constitution, effectively changing the Malawian electoral system.
That means a president will need a 50+1 majority of votes. Simply winning more votes than your competitors will no longer be enough. Throughout Malawi’s last parliamentary term, the governing Democratic Progressive Party actively tried to frustrate any attempts at such fundamental electoral reform.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :