The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling to nullify the presidential elections is now behind us. The whole world knows that the May 21 Malawian elections were grossly mismanaged and the Electoral Commission was at the centre of mismanaging elections which were riddled with gross irregularities.
However, the centre of focus has been the MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah who promised to resign should the ConCourt finds her to be at fault.
She has resisted calls to resign and for the past ten months the Human Rights Defenders Coalition has mobilised the masses and mounted mass demonstrations for her to resign. While the court case was not about her as MEC Chairperson, the decision by ConCourt to nullify election results inextricably links her and MEC commissioners to gross incompetence in the manner they handled the elections. They were in the driving seat and steered the ship.
Any election is as good as the people managing it. The ConCourt discovered that MEC breached the Constitution and electoral laws. As the person at the helm of MEC, the buck stops with her and she has to accept responsibility of what happened. She cannot run away from this.
The ConCourt nullification of the presidential elections is an indictment against poor handling of electoral process. She does not have any tangible reason to continue to serve as MEC Chair. She has no choice, but to resign with other commissioners. After all, she promised to resign after the ConCourt ruling.
With other electoral reforms that ConCourt has ordered [such as parliament involvement in the selection of MEC Commissioners], it is only natural that she steps down and pave the way for a new Malawi Electoral Commission. No one will accept the old MEC to handle fresh elections that will be conducted five months from now.
Clinging to the position is only making Malawians agitated as MEC has lost the trust of the people. They can no longer trust a commission that messed up elections.
Incidentally, there are growing calls from different sections of the Malawian society for all commissioners to immediately resign in the wake of the court ruling. Some sections of the society are planning to launch another round of demonstrations to force Ansah to resign. It is in the public interest for Ansah and other commissioners to resign.
Since the disputed May 21 elections, the country has witnessed a series of peaceful demonstrations, organised by HRDC, turn violent. Businesses have been looted or disrupted. Buildings burnt or vandalised. Innocent people have been harassed or beaten up. Others have been killed. The country cannot afford to have demonstrations now to force Ansah to resign. Her resignation and that of other commissioners should be automatic.
Now that Ansah knows the truth about how the court ruling, she should be set free. And being set free means stepping down!