Malawi: Don't Hold Malawi to Ransom, Ansah Please Go!

(file photo).
10 August 2019

Jane Ansah must resign. This has been the war cry of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) for the past two months.

A protester carries a banner calling for the ousting of Ansah.-Photo by Amos Gumulira, AFP

"There is no single election which Jane Ansah will ever be allowed to manage again. Not even a by-election," HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence declared on Tuesday.

As radical this view may sound since Ansah has not been proven guilty of any crime, on the streets a majority of Malawians have lost trust in the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson.

The turn up of protesters is clear evidence that people have no faith in the Justice of Appeal Judge. Even a video clip circulating on social media showing a young girl claiming that Ansah messed up the election sums up the perception that is out there of the MEC chair.

These days her name is so soiled that you cannot mention the name Jane Ansah at a beer hall and expect people to smile at you. That's how bad things are right now in this country. Surely Jane Ansah cannot play any role in Malawi elections anytime soon, as Trapence suggests.

Why she still thinks she can hold on to power, only the person behind the name Jane Ansah knows?

Demonstrations being organised by HRDC to force her out continue to gather momentum. If Ansah thought people, will show up for one or two protests, then the protests will fizzle out, she is dead wrong. On Tuesday, the protests reached their climax and they might get worse.

As the MEC chairperson is perhaps sipping some coffee and enjoying a sumptuous meal wherever she is, premature babies affected by the tear gas in the Kangaroo Ward at Bwaila Hospital Maternity Wing, are gasping for air.

As Ansah is comfortable in her home, one shop owner in Lilongwe, a woman in her 40s, cannot help but weep after her shop close to Bwaila Hospital was ransacked.

As Jane Ansah is browsing though news channels on a state-of-the-art TV or reading a stream of news on a smartphone, a policewoman is in pain after being mobbed, a riot van and police officer's houses have also been torched in her name.

As Jane Ansah is walking about freely wherever she is, Malawians who support the current government are living in fear that they will be attacked, hacked or beaten to death.

The streams of tears are all over town as people, mostly women and men who engage in small and medium-scale businesses, loudly wail after their lifetime savings and investments have gone up in smoke. Many of them have had their shops broken into and swept clean by unruly youths among the protesters.

So far, 501 people, according to Red Cross, have been injured and the economy in general is suffering and tourism is in decline.

Of course, no court has said Jane Ansah is guilty of any crime and protests might not be a legal process to remove her from public office. But all the damage can be prevented.

So why is Ansah still clinging on to her post?

In its July 12 2019 letter titled Management of Electoral Complaints and Determination of Electoral Results Concerning Presidential Elections 2019, her learned colleagues at the Malawi Law Society (MLS) asked Ansah to reflect if it was necessary to cling to her MEC post.

Word on the street is that Ansah should leave now before Malawi is razed to the ground

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