Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners Mary Nkosi and Elvey Mtafu Monday underwent a capacity test before Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament ahead of fresh presidential election which
Constitutional Court ordered last week after nullifying May 21 2019 presidential election results.
The court had ordered the test after finding the commissioners incompetent in managing the 2019 election which was reportedly marred by irregularities.
Nkosi, who opened the floor for the eight commissioners, told the committee that Mec erred by announcing final results of the May 21 2019 tripartite elections despite that many issues, including wide use of correction fluid on final tally sheets, were raised.
“In my opinion, the commission could have asked for an extension of time at least for 30 days and move around the constituencies where issues had been raised to settle the complaints.
But the commission was running against the race of time of eight days,” she said.
On management of the 147 complaints from different political parties and stakeholders, Nkosi said she never saw any complaint as she was told that legal experts were responsible for the complaints.
“I never saw a single complaint. The complaints were not coming to our desk as commissioners, they were being tackled by a legal team. I remember honourable [Eisenhower] Mkaka calling me putting so many questions.And not even a single day did we look into any complaint,” she said.
On the letter sent to the committee from Mec asking for an extension of time before appearing on grounds that the commission had not read the judgement,
Nkosi said the reasoning behind the commissioners’ earlier reluctance to meet Pac did not hold water as the same Mec had appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal using the same judgement.
Nkosi admitted to Pac that Mec had no idea on what to do before, during and after polling day such that the commissioners signed the result sheet the morning President Peter Mutharika was being sworn in.
She told Pac to look into the balance of power when appointing the next commissioners hinting on her intention to resign from Mec.
“The issue of balance of power is very critical. Like in any human behaviour, you do see the behaviour and how allegiances are passed on. Having been on the commission, I would really love that when commissioners are being elected, they should not be too politically inclined because that still shows even we were given advice ‘you are here, you are apolitical’,” she said.
She said she has intentions to resign but after seeking legal advice, she was told to wait until she appears before Pac where her fate and that of other commissioners will be decided.
Taking her turn, Mtafu said Mec used the sketch of the judgment while waiting to read the 500-page judgement as advised by their legal team.
In the afternoon, Mtafu said it was not the commissioners who were directly settling the 147 complaints but it was a taskforce which reported all the issues to the commission for decision making.
But Kasungu South East Member of Parliament, Khumbize Chiponda, queried the commissioner on whether the commission did anything on its own under its mandate other than delegating most of the activities.
“By delegating we did not leave anything to others. We were following up and it was us who were making decisions,” Mtafu said.
Pac’s meeting with Mtafu ended abruptly when the committee’s chairperson, Collins Kajawa, expressed dissatisfaction with her responses to the inquiry.
Mtafu was sent out after the commission complained that her responses lacked consistency and had gaps.
“Some gaps were noted which rested on lies so we are here to present Malawians and we don’t want any lies. She seemed not to be prepared. She kept on asking us to repeat questions and even her responses seemed to have so many gaps and are not consistent with the questions,” he said.
Pac is expected to meet others commissioners, Jane Ansah, Jean Mathanga, Killion Mgawi, Ambassador Yahaya M’madi, Linda Kunje, Moffat Banda and Cliford Baloyi.
The court ordered Parliament to inquire into the capacity and competence of the current commissioners to oversee fresh presidential election.