Malawi: Parliament Starts Due Process of Law to Remove Ansah - Summons Demo Organisers

Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah (file photo)
2 September 2019

Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of parliament has summoned anti-Jane Ansah protest organisers to find out why they want the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson to resign in what analysts say is the due process of the law to remove the MEC commissioners.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) vice chairperson Gift Trapence has confirmed the rights activists will meet the PAC members on Thursday.

"This is a very exceptional meeting. They want to appreciate the reasons why we want Jane Ansah out of office," said Trapence.

He described the meeting with the PAC members as an opportunity to lobby the committee recommend her firing to President Peter Mutharika.

PAC has the powers to recommend her removal from office.

Section 75(4) of the Constitution--the supreme law of the land--states that a member of MEC may be removed from office by the President on the recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) on grounds of incapacity or incompetence in the performance of duties of that office.

PAC chairperson Collins Kajawa said they will hear from HRDC why they want Ansah and her commissioner out.

However, Mutharika told the BBC on Monday he does not see any reason to fire her, saying regional and continental bodies and the US all said the election was free, fair, credible and transparent.

Chancellor College law professor Garton Kamchedzera, observed that moving Parliament to start the process of making recommendation to the President will ensure checks and balances so that the President does not just remove members of MEC on the basis of extraneous or irrelevant considerations.

He explained that PAC would have to examine the facts related to the performance of the functions and duties of the Commission under the Constitution and other relevant Acts (the Electoral Commission Act, Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, and Local Government Elections Act).

"They then would have to judge if the Commission showed lack of ability or skill in carrying out one of its statutory duties or functions, such as efficiently and effectively delivering free and fair elections," said Kamchedzera in quotes reported by the Weekend Nation newspaper.

He said the commission's failure would then be imputed to lack of effective leadership skills and ability or effective and efficient delegation on the part of the Commission and its chair.

"Upon such imputation, the Public Appointments Committee would have to recommend to the President to remove the chair on the grounds of incompetence. The President would weigh the evidence and reasons of the committee and if satisfied, make the decision to remove the chair," said Kamchedzera.

The paper reported that Kamchedzera's sentiments were echoed by Malawi Law Society honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde, who indicated that what the law provides is the viable process to remove any MEC commissioner.

Another legal expert Justin Dzonzi, however, said the MEC chairperson should not be taken to task alone when there is a whole list of people who might have been involved in alleged 'messing up of the elections.'

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