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Peter Mutharika, Mec commissioners dragged to High Court

REPRESENTING THE CONCERNED MALAWIANS—Kadzipatike

Three concerned Malawians have applied for an order of injunction against President Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners for failing to fire the commissioners and resign from office, respectively.

This comes after two of the three [George Ngwira and Aaron Kayira] on February 13 2020, wrote Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah, and the eight commissioners to vacate office, citing reasons had arisen that if such was the case before their appointment, they would not have qualified for the posts.

Mutharika is the first defendant in the matter. Following the noncompliance by the commissioners to the demand and failure by Mutharika to fire them even after Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (Pac) recommended their removal, the trio has commenced legal proceedings in Lilongwe on the matter.

Apart from the injunction, through their lawyer, George Kadzipatike, Thokozani Chenjezi and colleagues want the High Court to grant an order for leave to file judicial review proceedings against the failure by Mutharika to remove the commissioners and failure by the latter to quit Mec in the wake of circumstances which would have disqualified them from appointment if they arose before they occupied office.

“There are two alternative reliefs that we are seeking from the court. Either the court should issue an order compelling the President to remove the commissioners from office or the court has to declare that the commissioners do cease to hold office.

Pending the determination of the matter, we would like to obtain an order of injunction. Thus, the application is for leave for judicial review and for injunction,” Kadzipatike said.

In the sworn statement which we have seen and was filed at the High Court in Lilongwe Tuesday, Chenjezi has said the commissioners are holding office unconstitutionally and are not fit to plan and prepare any election, including the May 19 2020 presidential polls.

“I am shocked that from February 3 up to now, the first defendant has not removed the rest of the defendants from the commission and the second to 10th defendants have not ceased to be members of the electoral body and are actually running up and down, drawing budgets, and preparing themselves to organise another national election in the country, yet the 150 days within which the fresh election should be conducted are passing by,” the statement reads.

Presidential spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, said it was every citizen’s right to move the courts if they personally feel aggrieved.

“However, feeling aggrieved itself does not mean you have valid reasons to feel aggrieved for. One can also feel aggrieved due to lack of knowledge or indeed due to personal biases,” he said.

Mec spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, was not available for a comment as we went to press, but he told our sister paper, The Sunday Times this week that the commission will soon make a public announcement where all issues will be addressed.

Since Pac recommended to Mutharika to replace Ansah and her team of commissioners ahead of the fresh presidential polls, pressure has been mounting on the President to act on the recommendations.

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