Analyst Patel says resigning moral issue

With pressure continuing to mount for embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign, political scientist and academic Nandin Patel says it is a personal decision for one to take the moral responsibility to quit.

Patel, who is on record as having said that she did not see any legal basis for Ansah to step down for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, was responding to a question on her position in view of the growing pressure.

Patel: There is need for clarity

While stating that it remains a moral responsibility and personal decision for one to resign, she said her view was that there was more to the demonstrations than the calls for Ansah to quit.

Said Patel: “Is this the way to remove our office-bearers when there are set procedures? Why can’t we abide by rule of law?”

She observed that demonstrators were also expressing sentiments that they want change and fighting corruption.

Patel said much as demonstrations were a constitutional right, there was a need for clarity on what people are demonstrating for.

Said Patel: “If we talk about the fight for political justice, why disrupt the work of the electoral management body?”

Patel, who has extensively researched and published on elections and democracy, earlier also faulted demands by Public Affairs Committee (PAC) for Ansah to resign.

Efforts to get Ansah’s fresh comment yesterday failed, but Patel, in the interview, said this moral responsibility is different from a scenario where one is proven guilty of a crime.

Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, is on record as having told Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) that she would only step down if the court hearing an elections petition found her leadership to have failed to discharge its duties.

In its July 12 2019 letter titled Management of Electoral Complaints and Determination of Electoral Results Concerning Presidential Elections 2019, Malawi Law Society (MLS) also said there was no legal basis for Ansah to resign.

However, MLS asked her to reflect on her position if it was necessary for her to cling to her position when the situation was getting bad.

The MLS also called on the organisers and supporters of the anti-Ansah demonstrations to deeply reflect on the value of such demonstrations while the substance of the subject matter remains a legal dispute being managed through the courts.

Ansah has dismissed calls for her to resign for allegedly compromising herself and mismanaging the May 21 Tripartite Elections and purportedly favouring President Peter Mutharika.

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