MEC commissioners play hide and seek with the nation on electoral justice

The Public Appointment Committee of Parliament has summoned all Malawi Electoral Commissioners (MEC) to appear before it on Monday, February 10 but the Commissioners have asked if they can be given more time to enable them prepare well to face the Committee.

MEC chairperson Jane Ansah SC and other commissioners  (c) Abel Ikiloni, Mana

The Commissioners argue that the summonses for them to appear before the Public Appointment Committee are based on the ‘opinion’ of the Constitutional Court case No. 1 of February 3, 2019 and base their request on the expansion of the summonses on that the period to appear before the Committee is short.

“The Committee has most probably taken notice that the opinion of the Court which is, we have been reliably informed, has not been perfected yet, is close to 500 pages long,” says the Commissioners’ statement released by Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika, dated February 8.

“The individual Commissioners have not had time to read through the judgement and as such they are yet to fully appreciate the elements comprising the reasoning of the Court in coming up with its decision.”

However, MEC is appealing to Supreme Court when commissioners claim they have not read and digested the Constitution Court ruling thereby raising questions if lawyers are actions as Commission.

Alfandika further says the Commissioners are entitled to consult legal counsel on the reasoning of the Court in arriving at the decision which has formed the basis of the summonses.

“The Commission would also like to seek legal advice as to whether the Committee has not been unduly influenced by the decision of the Court and has already made up its mind given the allocated to each Commissioner on such an important inquiry.”

Asking for a minimum period of 21 days extension notice, the Commissioners requests “to be given ample time to seek the requisite permission to appear with legal representation when they appear before the Committee”.

“Lastly, It has been noted that the Summonses are intended to make an enquiry on the aspects of capacity and competence of the Commissioners.

“We bemoan lack of sufficient particularity of the two heads of enquiry and request of your good office to accordingly furnish the Commissioners with sufficient particulars of the heads of enquiry to enable them prepare well to face the Committee in accordance with the demands of natural justice and human rights,” says Alfandika.

Commenting on social media, law expert at the Chancellor College Faculty of Law, Sunduzwayo Madise questioned the rationale of the extension to appear before the Committee, saying: “Commissioners have not read the judgement and yet the Commission had appealed? How is that possible?”

“The Commission is playing petty with serious matters of state. There is too much self interest in their approach and not as public service institutions.

“The court judgment is not an opinion. It’s authoritative and sacrosanct until reversed.

“It is contempt to decline a summons of Parliament liable to penalty that a Court can be moved to impose including the penalty of imprisonment,” Madise said.

To which another expert in the same Chancellor College Faculty of Law, Edge Kaminjolo responded: “Do they want to add a ‘contempt’ charge to their legal woes?”

Others were incredulous that the Commissioners have described the ConCourt ruling as an ‘opinion of the court’, saying they are degrading the ConCourt yet they seek relief from its elder Court?

“Somehow I think that the MEC and Mr Alfandika have assumed that they have more power than is the reality,” comments Eric Mwambene. “They do not fully understand the intricacies of rule of law [and] their biases are standing in the middle of ability to discern.”

The country’s Constitution says: “If a person to whom a summons under section 10 is directed does not attend before the Assembly of the Committee at the time and place mentioned therein, the Speaker may, upon being satisfied that the summons was dully served or that the person to whom the summons is directed willfully avoids service, direct the Clerk to issue. A warrant, in such form as may be prescribed, to apprehend him and bring him, at a time and place to be stated in the warrant, before the Assembly or Committee.”

The Constitution continues to say the Speaker, on directing the issue of warrant under this section, may, if he thinks fit, by ordering an appropriate endorsement on the warrant, direct that the person named in the warrant be released after arrest on his entering into such a recognizance before a court for his appearance before the Assembly or committee as may be required in the endorsement.

The Commissioners being asked to appear before the Parliamentary Public Appointment Committee are Justice Jane Ansah, SC (chairperson); Dr Moffat Banda, Elvey Mtafu; Ambassador Yahaya Mmadi; Rev. Clifford Baloyi; Rev. Killion Mgawi; Dr. Jean Mathanga; Linda Kunje and Bishop Mary Nkosi.

Meanwhile, Justice Ansah’s tenure of office as MEC Commissioner is expected to end in October 2020 while those of the rest of her fellow commissioners end in June 2020, before the anticipated presidential election re-run in 150 day’s starting from February 3 as ordered by the Constitutional Court judgement.

High Court judges, who heard the elections case, found that there were massive irregularities in the May 21 2019 presidential election which saw President Peter Mutharika re-elected with 38 percent of the vote.

The court also ordered Parliament to take appropriate legislative measures to ensure that the significance of the certainty which is brought by fixing the date of the general election under Section 67 (1) of the Constitution is preserved.

It also ordered that the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament should, in line with Section 75 (4) of the Constitution, inquire into the capacity and competence of MEC’s current commissioners to oversee the fresh election.

Again, the court ordered that Parliament must, within 21 days from the date of the ruling, make appropriate provisions for holding of a presidential runoff in the event that no single candidate secures the constitutional majority under Section 80 (2) of the Constitution as interpreted by the court.

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Avunsey
Avunsey
1 year ago

The whole matter of appeal is not the Fresh Elections to be held within 150 days but defending 50+1
and it seems MEC is busy tricking Judges. Jane Ansah bumped her chest several times and the Judges sc saw her and the court brought verdict and today she is appealing the case? A pastor? Or she is doing it deliberately because of her fellow Judges in SC.?

Hmariwa
Hmariwa
1 year ago

This clearly shows that MEC does not even respect PAC. If it was president they have rushed when going there. Achita manyazi wa PAC

Null Void
1 year ago

komabe let us be realistic, timvere ziti, Some of the judges have ruled in favour of the MPs who failed during this tripartite election and some judges have ruled in favour of the ones who triumphed when they lodged their complaint. Yet the five Judges are saying the whole tripartite election should be nullified because it was marred with gross irregilarities

ANA ACHEPA
ANA ACHEPA
1 year ago

Kuyambila Ansah amayenela akagoneko kaye

Mitengo
Mitengo
1 year ago
Reply to  ANA ACHEPA

On which verdict?

Vilhomwe Ndivimbuli
1 year ago

Jane Ansah is foolish and a pure rotten dustbin material
My advice: ngakhale chitsime chomwapo amfumu madzi chimaphwa a Jane!!!!

CESSPOOL
CESSPOOL
1 year ago

As the atmosphere is getting hotter and hotter MEC as a team is facing expiry. Unable to pat herself on the back for a job soiled with irregularities. The Madando Queen can’t raise her face nor her voice. It’s unfortunate that the Concourt didn’t mete out punishment on the MEC rather it dwelt on generalities. As soon as the MEC realised that the whole determination didn’t hold them accountable either by jailing them for abdicating their rightful or firing them they have been emboldened to scale up their “irresponsible innocence” by going to the Supreme Court of Appeal. Malawi is… Read more »

Nil
Nil
1 year ago

Mukut simumafuna kupita coz simunamalize kuwerenga the 500 pages. Nde appeal mwapanga musanalize kuwerenga??? Nde nkumati appeal ikaphula kanthu???? U r waisting our time

Null Void
1 year ago

Indeed I support the Commissioners because the 500 page judgement need to be scrutinized well since there are a lot of misunderstanding on the judgement from the 5 Judges. For example, the MPs, the likes of Jessie Kabwila and Mwenefumbo are requesting the nullification of the whole election that includes that of the MPs and Councilors. Indeed we need also to listen to these guys because they have a point. Lawyers including Judges are saying because they did not complain as what was done with Chilima and Chakwera. Here, one wonders which school these people went through because it is… Read more »

nyarugwe
nyarugwe
1 year ago
Reply to  Null Void

They have already read it that is why why they have appealed against judgement

Phwiti
Phwiti
1 year ago
Reply to  nyarugwe

It is very proper that the commissioners read the whole Judgement hence they appealed the case. AKUWAPUSITSA KWAMBIRI A PAC AND JUDGES.

Ndayizivei Chiremba
Ndayizivei Chiremba
1 year ago
Reply to  Null Void

I disagree, why do they appeal while they haven’t scrutinize the judgement?

Analytics
Analytics
1 year ago

Siziwona ma Commissioned with religious titles are from briefcase church. They are leaders in their own right. Rev K. Mgawi was a senior in a known Synod, Rev Baloyi was also asenior in
another known Synod, Bishop M. Nkosi was also a senior in a ….

Mtete
Mtete
1 year ago

Commissioners are now feeling the heat following mismanagement of the May 21 elections. It was fun for them at the time; manipulating results through several dubious means including use of Tip-Ex. These people fooled themselves by thinking they would rig the election, announce the results, receive one or two complaints, brush them aside and continue with business as usual. They never thought Opposition would take up the complaints with the courts. They have been taken unawares and are now giving lots of excuses. They claim they need more time to go through the 500page judgement and yet they have filed… Read more »

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