By Taonga Sabola:
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Monday shifted the nationwide anti-Justice Jane Ansah demonstrations initially scheduled for today to Friday.
HRDC Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, said the shift was designed to give the coalition time to serve a notice for the demonstration to the police, who also need to prepare for the protests.
This would be the third time Malawians will take to the streets against the under-pressure Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) chairperson since Malawians voted in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
“We would like to announce that the demonstrations that were slated for Tuesday [today] 16th July 2019 have been shifted to Friday 19th July 2019. Should Jane Ansah fail to resign, we will carry on with our plans of holding demonstrations every Tuesday and Friday of the subsequent weeks.
“We want to remind all Malawians that our demonstrations are peaceful and not meant to target businesses, individuals and organisations,” Mtambo said.Advertisement
Mtambo, who is also Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director, said they noted with dismay how some Malawians took advantage of the last round of demonstrations to loot and vandalise public and private properties.
Mtambo, who was accompanied by HRDC Vice-Chairperson Gift Trapence, activists Billy Mayaya and Dorothy Ngoma, among others, condemned those involved in violent activities during the demonstrations.
“We distance ourselves from this and would like to call upon the Malawi Police Service to arrest anyone seen to be vandalising or encouraging people to loot and attack businesses using social media.
“As HRDC, we would like to again remind all Malawians that our primary focus is to restore Malawi’s destiny through electoral justice. We want Jane Ansah to resign,” Mtambo said.
Taking his turn, Trapence, who was granted bail from police custody on allegations of fraud, said it was shocking that Malawians continued to be confronted by what he described as a sinister and revisionist Mec.
“We are aware that a coordinated effort by Mec, disguised as an affidavit solicitation process, is underway in many districts in Malawi in which opaque meetings are being held, sometimes in the dead of night, with election presiding officers allegedly being forced to retroactively append signatures to, thus certifying after the fact, vote tally documents.
“This, shockingly, is in spite of Mec’s own categorical insistence that election-related documentation had duly followed all procedural stipulations as required by law before the announcement of the final official results, and so has been the position of Mec even during the ongoing court proceedings,” Mtambo said.
The human rights defenders also expressed anger at the spate of alleged deaths of presiding officers and persons connected to the alleged fraud-ridden election over the past weeks.
“Our count is now at six of persons who have turned up dead under strange circumstances after having been identified as persons of interest in different aspects of the contested elections.
“It appears that, while a formal process is underway through constitutionally provided protests and citizens’ actions and in our courts, other nefarious processes instigated by shadow-actors are also underway in our country through dark, informal and barbaric channels. Surprisingly, there has been no official report or communication by the police as to the established cause of these mysterious deaths,” Trapence said.
In a recent televised interview, Ansah said she would not resign, describing calls for her to resign as mob justice.
Last week, a group of concerned women took to the streets of Blantyre to show their support for Ansah.
Mec spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Monday said the affidavits are statements from the presiding officers that the commission wants to present in court.
“Had HRDC consulted their lawyers for advice regarding procedures for compiling witness statement; they could have been on our side. It is the same way with the parties. If they are taking their witness statements from their monitors, they do not need to involve Mec or the public. It is a business of them and their monitors,” Mwafulirwa said.
On Sunday, some members of the community in Kasungu District chased Mec officers and lawyers when they wanted to collect signatures of presiding officers of the elections to be used for preparing for affidavits in the on-going Constitutional Court case involving the commission and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM who are challenging the presidential results.
MCP released a statement warning Mec to stop collecting the signatures, saying their move was suspicious.
In reaction, Mec Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika, released a statement asking MCP to withdraw the statement or risk legal action. However, MCP refused to withdraw the statement.
Mec declared Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika the winner of the presidential elections but the opposition say Mec overlooked serious anomalies.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues