- Brands resignation calls ‘mob justice’
- Insists she operated within the law
Embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane 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.
Breaking her silence in an exclusive interview with multi-award winning private broadcaster Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) aired last night, she described accusations of her personal bias as unfounded and baseless.
During the interview, Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, rejected any calls for her to resign on principle, saying she will wait for the court’s judgement on the matter to decide whether to call it quits.
She described nationwide demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) in the country’s four cities last Thursday demanding her resignation as “mob justice”.
Ansah also rejected the call by the country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima for her to resign.
She said: “What I can say is that Dr Chilima has seen it fit to follow the proper procedure. Human rights are in our laws, they are observed and enjoyed within the rule of law.
“There are laws concerning everything they are talking about. So for me, the right way is to allow the whole process to complete. What they are doing is mob justice.
“Is Dr Chilima an investigator and judge at the same time? They have taken themselves to be judges. It’s mob justice.”
The MEC chairperson deferred several questions during the interview owing to the ongoing court case in which Chilima, who finished third according to results declared by MEC, and second-placed Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have petitioned the High Court to nullify presidential election results owing to alleged alteration of results sheets and the general results management system.
On whether MEC was in contempt of the law by immediately responding to the lifting of an injunction against announcement of results while ignoring a similar order by the same court to recount the votes, Ansah said the commission’s reading of the law was that the recount would only be effected after a thorough judicial review.
On observations that MEC rushed to announce the results without fully addressing the complaints, Ansah defended the electoral body’s conduct, reiterating that the commission had exhausted tackling all the complaints before announcing the results.
Tackling a question on the observation by High Court Judge Charles Mkandawire that MEC did not address concerns raised by MCP at the time it wished to release the results, Ansah faulted Mkandawire’s judgement, suggesting that it was premised on inadequate information.
She also insisted that the elections were not rigged despite all the top three candidates—President Peter Mutharika, Chakwera and Chilima—claiming rigging.
In the interview, Ansah refused to admit that the widespread use of correction fluid, widely known for the famous brand Tipp-Ex, was evidence of malpractice. She refused to open up on whether MEC has conducted an investigation into how Tipp-Ex was supplied, but downplayed its possible impact on the election outcomes.
On whether she still had confidence in the election system after one of MEC officials managed to infiltrate the system and digitally transferred Chilima from Lilongwe to Chizumulu Island, Ansah said police are yet to provide MEC with a report on their investigation. She conceded MEC was yet to ask for the report from police.
Ansah said she is personally alright and leading a normal life, but travelled out of the country briefly for a funeral of a close family member.
However, she opened up about her emotional being when she addressed accusations that she had received billions of kwacha in bribery to fix the elections.
Said Ansah: “I look at the process. According to the process, I don’t see any room for rigging.”
She acknowledged receipt of Chilima’s letter and responded to the same that the matter is still in court; hence, she would not respond to other allegations.
In his letter, Chilima said he had evidence that Ansah spoke to colleagues at MEC to work on re-electing Mutharika and stop the possible ascendancy to the vice-presidency of MCP running mate Muhammad Sidik Mia allegedly for being a Muslim. During the ZBS interview, Ansah denied both allegations, saying she has no access to MEC staff except the chief elections officer.
She said: “What I can say is that I did my work according to law.”
During the interview, Ansah quickly changed her response to a question on whether she has spoken to Mutharika since the elections. First, she said she has not spoken to the President, but in a follow-up question, she said she has spoken to Mutharika once to seek permission to travel abroad for the funeral.