President Peter Mutharika has said the recommendation by members of Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (PAC) to fire Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners—including embattled chairperson Jane Ansah—for alleged incompetence and mismanagement of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, is “specious and laughable.”
Mutharika said in a statement issued by Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani explaining the reasons why the President has not assented to the electoral commission amendment bill.
The President said he has withheld his assent to the bill because “it does not meet the tests of constitutionality and lawfulness and that it infringes on the principle of separation of powers with various arms of the government”
Mutharika said the PAC report has shortfalls, which he has cited, that relate to the right to lawful and procedurally fair administrative action under section 43 of the Constitution.
He said the parliamentary inquiry did not give the MEC commissioners enough time to prepare for the meeting and that in the recommendations to the President PAC did not include letters of invitation to commissioners summoning them to appear before the committee
“The letters of invitation to each Commissioner to a hearing are not disclosed in the report; The Commissioners were apparently not given adequate time to prepare for the hearing. At law, there is need to give individuals adequate time to prepare to attend to inquiries,” said Mutharika, a professor of law.
He further argues that the report does not indicate whether the commissioners were given any particulars of incompetence or incapacity.
“The report does not disclose whether the Commissioners were given the right to bring lawyers to represent them at the hearings. The report has failed to establish that members of the committee, individually and collectively lack competence and capacity,” said Mutharika.
According to Mutharika, the PAC report does not factor in the role that stakeholders played in agreeing with the Commissioners on procedural issues and forms to be used and puts the whole blame on Commissioners, “hence its findings are questionable.”
Apparently, Mutharika pointed out that the electoral body had “the competence and capacity to manage the local and parliamentary elections but lacked the competence and capacity to manage the presidential elections. I find this position specious and laughable.”
PAC public inquiry that assessed the competences of MEC members was ordered by the Constitutional Court on February 3, when the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court nullified the presidential election in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Mutharika said PAC could as well have been “prejudiced” by the findings of the Constitution Court, and said since the judgement is under appeal, and in light of the reasons he has outlined, he rejects Committee’s recommendation that he should fire the members of the Commission including the chairperson.
The five-judge panel comprising Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Dingiswayo Madise, unanimously upheld a petition to nullify the election and tasked Parliament to facilitate the reconstruction of MEC which was found to have been “grossly incompetent”.
The Constitutional Court declared the commissioners incompetent in the discharge of their duties of managing election.
PAC has a membership of 21, including chairperson, and comprises six legislators from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), six independents, five from main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), two from United Democratic Front (UDF) and one each for People’s Party (PP) and UTM Party.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :