Attorney General (AG), Kalekeni Kaphale, has not moved to stop today’s scheduled anti- Jane Ansah demonstrations but has blamed the organisers for allegedly failing to uphold the rule of law.
Today’s protests are targeting the ongoing 21st Annual General Conference of the Electoral Commissions Forum for Sadc Countries (ECF-Sadc) in Blantyre where the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Ansah is chairing the proceedings.
Speaking on AG’s behalf Tuesday, lawyer Neverson Chisiza, said it was surprising that Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have proceeded to convene the protests before the Supreme Court of Appeal makes its determination on the appeal case.
The court is today expected to deliver its ruling on Kaphale’s appeal to stop the demonstrations, which he argued have been violent and led to destruction of private and public properties.
“In this case, we have to go by the rule of law. In this case, the rule of law says we have to comply with the directions of the court or orders of the court. So for us, we are only waiting for the court’s direction or ruling which we will have to comply with,” Chisiza said.
“As the chambers of the AG, we do not want to comment. We do not want to prejudice or pre-empt the court’s ruling. So we are eagerly waiting for the judgement.”
Asked on why his clients proceeded to organise the protests before the court’s determination on the matter, HRDC lawyer, Khwima Mchizi, said there was no reason stopping Malawians from taking to the streets in the absence of a court ruling.
“The status quo is that there is neither a ruling nor court judgment barring demonstrations because in the first place, the AG asked for an injunction at the High Court in Lilongwe and it was not granted,” Mchizi said.
“That is why he appealed to the Supreme Court, which has delivered no ruling barring the demos save for the [14-day] moratorium which elapsed. So, my clients are exercising their right under the Constitution of freedom of assembly.”
Meanwhile, the police have not come out clearly if they would provide security or not during the demonstrations.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, Tuesday said: “We will deal with the situation as it comes.”
HRDC Central Region Chairperson, Billy Mayaya, said the protesters will take to the ECF-Sadc conference venue where they will read out a petition asking the regional electoral body to help the country access electoral justice.
Malawi has been locked in a political impasse since May 2019, on allegations that the elections were marred by irregularities with stakeholders demanding Ansah’s resignation while Malawi Congress Party and UTM are challenging the presidential poll result in court.