Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (PAC) says it will summon Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah after investigating issues that Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have raised against her.
PAC chairperson Collins Kajawa said this in an interview after the meeting HRDC and the committee held in camera at Parliament Building in Lilongwe yesterday.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo, in reference to their appeal to fire Ansah, has since asked the committee to take the issues to President Peter Mutharika.
But Kajawa said in the interview that as a committee, they are mandated to summon a person within seven days after receiving a petition from the public.
He said: “Actually, we can summon people according to our Standing Orders that give a minimum of seven days. We would like to uphold that protocol to summon the people. In this case you cannot count seven days from tomorrow but after our investigations within three days, and then after seven days we can summon the public officer, in this case Jane Ansah.”
Asked on the dialogue with HRDC, the PAC chairperson said critical issues emerged that first require investigation as they concerned their public officers which compels them to hear both sides.
He, however, said the summoning can delay because of the tabling of the 2019/20 National Budget which is scheduled to start next week.
“But if after the three days of investigations we find information that is very critical, we can waive relevant procedures to have the case finalised,” said Kajawa.
PAC summoned HRDC to explain their demand for the MEC chairperson to resign following the rights body’s claim that Ansah presided over a fraudulent May 21 presidential election.
This was the second major meeting for HRDC this week, who also met representatives from the Attorney General (AG)’s office and other government offices on Wednesday to discuss ways of ensuring peaceful anti-Ansah demonstrations.
Meanwhile, Mtambo has hailed the discussions with Parliament, saying they are hopeful the committee will address their issues.
He said: “We had successful discussions and we have effectively and fairly represented the people that believe in our cause. We emphasise that we will not rest until Jane Ansah resigns or her appointing authority does not fire her.”
Mtambo added that his team gave the parliamentary committee enough reasons why they want Ansah to step down.
“We don’t trust MEC and they [PAC] cannot preside over an institution which is questionable. We hope the committee will address these issues objectively regardless of their political affiliations,” he said.
Mtambo said HRDC expects PAC to write to President Peter Mutharika to fire Ansah and the entire MEC in reference to their appeal they made on the same.
Said the HRDC chairperson: “We hope they will take these issues to the President and that he will act on our demand. But for now, our demonstrations will continue. We will go on the streets to force government to make her resign.”
HRDC has been holding demonstrations since the announcement of the May 21 presidential election results to force Ansah to resign and pave the way for investigations to identify and prosecute those who supplied Tippex used to alter elections figures.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has dismissed calls for her to resign for allegedly mismanaging the presidential election, saying she would only step down if the court hearing an elections petition case found her leadership to have failed to discharge its duties.
The AG commenced proceedings in the High Court to challenge the legality of the demonstrations. The Supreme Court then ordered a 14-day suspension of demonstrations to allow the AGs office and HRDC to discuss how they can ensure violent free demonstrations.