A renowned gender activist Seodi White, who is chief technical director of the Public Sector Reforms in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), has been widely condemned by the public through social media from abusing gender card in defence of embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, is facing resignation calls from a section of the society including electoral stakeholders who accuse her of mismanaging the May 21 Presidential vote results.
At a news conference held at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, Seodi led dozens of women –mostly ruling DPP supporters- who were seen being paid K10 000 each to shed tears for Ansah that she was being persecuted for being a woman.
Seodi has her weeping stunt, when she cried dramatically, saying Ansah was being “humiliated, insulted and castigated”, arguing that the calls for her resignation was a gender issue.
“This is violence against women. It is a gender-based violence,” she said.
“Dr Jane Ansah will not fall. From today all women in Malawi are Jane Ansahs,” said Seodi.
But several Malawians, including women, took to social media to dismiss the narrative that Ansah is being asked to resign because is a woman, saying previously MEC has been held by a female chairperson Justice Anastasia Msosa who presided over two national elections but remained credited for doing a commendable job in managing the electoral process.
US based Malawian Silaba Mpasu took to Facebook to point out that Seodi “viciously attacked Joyce Banda [Malawi’s first female president]” and spearheaded her downfall.
“You can’t pick and choose when to wear your feminism cloak,” she posted.
Politician Hellen Chabunya also accused Seodi of “trying too hard to remain relevant.”
She wrote: “This is not a fight against a woman but the office responsible for the most fraudulent election Malawi has ever seen.”
Anita Kalinde posted that she has been a Minister of Gender and “I know what gender equality is”.
Former Malawi representative in the Big Brother Africa, Fatima Nkata dismissed Seodi.
“Don’t get it twisted. We, the people are not taking to the streets demanding that Jane Ansah steps down because she is a woman. We are protesting against Justice Ansah, chairperson of the disgraceful electoral commission and the sham of a presidential election she presided over,” who wrote.
Nkata continued: “Patriarchy as a social structure uses people like you [Seodi] to do its dirty work and perpetuate its hegemony. A typical case of when the oppressed internalise the oppressor and become tools of their own oppression.
“No person, man or woman, should be excused from answering their actions simply because they are a man or woman.”
Another commentator Negracious Justin argued that elimination of male chauvinism and promotion of gender equality through femele empowerment does not necessarily mean promoting female mediocrity.
“Promotion of women does not in any way become an altar upon which substance should be sacrificed,” said Negracious who posts on Facebook under the name ‘LordDenning SC’.
Social-political commentator and journalist Idriss Ali Nassah also condemned Seodi, saying she is “recklessly” peddling the false narrative that Ansah is being targeted for criticism because she is a a woman.
Nassah said such narrative is “just shallow, vacuous an self-serving nonsense.”
He said Seodi can take her tears elsewhere, “we won’t be folled.”
Law expert and commentator Allan Ntata said is Sedi and her group has cried when people with albinism were being killed “they would have had some credibility.”
Currently, there is tension in the country as civil society organisations, through Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), have been organising nationwide protests to force Ansah to resign for allegedly presiding over a fraudulent elections.