Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has described as ridiculous Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah’s remarks that the commission will conduct the fresh presidential election using electoral laws which governed the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The committee’s chairperson, Kezzie Msukwa, also said Parliament expects to receive signed electoral reform bills from President Peter Mutharika by today following the expiry of the timeframe within which the President was expected to assent to the bills.
Msukwa said it was sad that Ansah continues to work although she was found incompetent by the Constitutional Court and Public Appointments Committee of Parliament (Pac).
“What she is doing is to move the country backwards, instead of moving it forward. But what people should know is that Mec will not use the old laws because, in the first place, Jane Ansah and all the commissioners are not supposed to be working at Mec at the moment,” he said.
Msukwa said his committee will meet to decide the next step to take if Mutharika does not assent to the bills by today.
“We passed the bills and sent them to the President as per requirement. If we will not have the bills by Monday [today], we will follow it up with him. But what we believe is that the President will respect the laws and the process and sign the bills to move the country forward,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Presidential spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, said Mutharika will decide what to do with the bills because it is his discretion to either sign or send them back to Parliament.
Speaking during the National Elections Consultative Forum in Blantyre on Friday, Ansah said the law which was in force during the May 21 2019 elections would be used in the forthcoming elections.
This means that according to Ansah, the winner for the forthcoming presidential election will not be decided by the 50 percent-plus-one majority law as determined by the Constitutional Court that nullified the presidential election.
But Dean of Law at Chancellor College, Sunduzwayo Madise, suggested that Ansah is not correct to insist on using the old law during the forthcoming election.
Madise said Ansah and the entire commission could be in contempt of the Constitutional Court by using the old laws which provided for simple majority.
“She [Ansah] is neither the court nor the law. She needs to obey the law and the court order or appeal the court’s judgment if she is not satisfied. Defying court orders cannot be a solution to this,” he said.
Apart from assenting to the electoral reform bills, Mutharika is also expected to fire Mec commissioners, including Ansah, by Thursday this week.
The Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 presidential election results and ordered fresh polls from February 3 2020 when the judgement was delivered while further tasking Parliament with coming up with legislation for operationalising the 50-percent-plus-one system.
Parliament passed the bills but the ball is now in the court of Mutharika. The President is also expected to act on Pac recommendation to fire the commissioners and have a new team in place to run the fresh poll.
The Constitutional Court delivered the judgment after Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima had petitioned the court citing irregularities, which they argued marred the presidential election results.
The court established that the election results were indeed marred by “widespread, systematic and grave irregularities.”
However, Mutharika has appealed to the Supreme Court against the Constitutional Court’s judgement.
In the disputed May 21 polls, Mec announced that Mutharika had won by 38 percent against 35 percent for Chakwera and 20 percent for Chilima.