Malawi: Mutharika Insists Cannot Fire MEC - Malawi Leader Take PAC to Task On Political Violence

30 April 2020

President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday took Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to task for not holding opposition political leaders accountable for post-election violence while sticking to his guns that he cannot fire Malawi Electoral Commisison (MEC).

President Mutharika: PAC failed to criticize violence for 9 good months

Mutharika told PAC, a quasi-religious body formed in 1992 during the country's political transition from one-party to multiparty system of government , on Wednesday at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre when they met to discuss issues of national interest.

One of the issues discussed was the call to fire commissioners at the electoral body who the High Court of Malawi sitting as a Constitutional Court found gross incompetence in the commissioners' management of the annulled May 2019 presidential election results.

The court, therefore, ordered Parliament's Public Appointments Committee (PAC) to further evaluate the commissioners' performance and make appropriate recommendations to President Peter Mutharika.

PAC, upon assessment, recommended that the President fires the commissioners and replace them with a new set ahead of the fresh presidential poll that the National Assembly has proposed be held on May 19 2020.

But President Mutharika on Wednesday insisted there is nothing wrong with the Jane Ansah led commission which has already started the fresh election preparations. But the holding of the fresh poll will depend on the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ruling on the appeal, which MEC filed requesting the court to uphold the May 21 2019 presidential election and results.

Just before the May 2019 elections, PAC made leaders of political parties to sign what it called Peace Declaration.

The declaration bound them to accept the results of the elections and uphold peace.

However, Malawi has witnessed unprecedented political violence organized by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) with their street domonstrationes joined by UTM leader Saulos Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful.

Throughout, PAC did not hold Chakwera and Chilima to account for violating the peace accord and for refusing to accept the results as signed.

Instead, the only known response PAC attempted was to mediate in the political impasse, dragging in Mutharika who upheld peace all through the time.

And now during his meeting with PAC, Mutharika put PAC in the hotspot.

He told PAC officials bluntly that he was disappointed that they failed to criticize the violence while it happened.

"In every election, you have always insisted that political leaders must commit to peace and accept results of the Election. I have always wondered if you, as Public Affairs Committee fulfilled this duty in the 2019 Election.

"I and many other Malawians have been disappointed that PAC failed to criticize violence for 9 good months," said Mutharika.

The Malawi leader told the PAC officials that Malawi is in a state of political tension today because some political leaders decided not to accept results of the election.

Against their own endorsement of the Peace Declaration, these leaders decided to use violence to express electoral grievances.

Thirdly, he said Malawi is is in a political mess today because the High Court failed to deliver justice based on law, truth and evidence.

"We all agree that the Concourt Judgement was a miscarriage of justice," said the President.

And the President hauled PAC over the coals for not discharging its God-given duty to condemn criminality and injustice and failing to protect Malawi's democracy from being "hijacked and destroyed before our eyes".

"People are committing violence, criminal activities and serious injustice in the name of human rights. As religious leaders, it is your duty to ensure that there is justice in the land where God anointed you to serve," he reminded PAC.

He therefore wondered whether PAC would rise to the challenge and ensure that losers in the fresh elections accept the results and commit to be peace.

"If some people lose and take the matter to Court again, how will you ensure that the Court will deliver justice? How will you ensure that there will be no violence? I am putting these questions to you because we have the right to count on you as religious leaders," said Mutharika.

The President reminded PAC about the important place it occupies in Malawi's history and how that high regard raises expectations about how it functions to protect democracy.

"You are the committee that played a big role in the foundation of our democracy. Therefore, it is my expectation that you have the duty to protect democracy in this country," said Mutharika.

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