Democracy thrives on institutions of checks and balances—they can be state or non-state ones.
Unlike South Africa’s democracy where a state broadcaster SABC can tear down a sitting president, Malawi is a curious tale because most of its state institutions and agencies are captured by ruling elites. Just look at MBC, police, ACB, MRA; they all function as zombies.
This is why, elite and well-informed non-state institutions, such as Malawi Law Society (MLS), becomes critical in standing in the gap of providing informed checks and balances to incumbents.
However, looking at the demands of protesters causing havoc on our streets, it is becoming clear that there is an importance voice of MLS which is missing.
Look, MLS is a grouping of professional lawyers cemented by a common goal of sensitizing the public about legal issues and, also, providing governance checks and balances that have a legal connotation.
I am sorry to write that over the Jane Ansah’s resignation calls by the public, MLS’s silence is suspiciously worrying. In fact, it’s a silence that isn’t different from a possible demise of MLS’s relevance to society.
Ansah presided over a mismanaged electoral processed. She confirmed it herself when she admitted that MEC failed to control presiding officers from tipexing result sheets. Further, all key political figures—Peter Mutharika, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima—have admitted that the election was rigged. These two reason presents enough, though not sufficient, grounds to doubt Ansah’s continued stay at MEC.
MEC, as one of democracy’s essential institutions, is being headed by a person whose capacity to govern has been found wanting and also she does not have public trust. She must go!
I thought MLS could have been the first to join the public with strong demands of Ansah’s resignation. One, because Ansah is a member of the legal fraternity, her conduct puts credibility questions to the profession; and two, because Ansah admitted that procedures were flouted during the vote counting process.
I think these two reasons are enough, for purposes of protecting the image of the legal profession and also being seen to be advancing a just cause, MLS should have been on the frontlines with HRDC and opposition gurus in demanding the resignation of Ansah.
I know MLS will delve in their statutes and dust off sections that govern their operations in matters such as these. Well, it must be underlined that it is in moments such as these, when people are yearning for justice in the streets, when institutions such as MLS need to close their statutes and join the cause of the people.
We don’t want an MLS which, if these were the 1960s in US, would have remained numb, arguing; “racial divide is legal, so, tell Martin Luther King we are not joining him. We will remain silent.”
We need a functional MLS, flexible and one that adapts quickly to instant and emerging needs of the people. Otherwise, as it stands, Mr Burton Mhango, your MLS is dead. May its soul continue to rest in peace as we wait for the second coming.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :