Mutharika refuses to fire Ansah, MEC commissioners

President Peter Mutharika has refused to fire Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and other MEC commissioners saying the position that the MEC commissioners lacked competency to manage the 2019 presidential elections is laughable.

Mutharika’s decision was announced today at press briefing which presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalirani held in Blantyre today.

Last month, the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee held hearings for MEC commissioners and in its report the committee recommended the firing of the eight commissioners and MEC chairperson Ansah saying they lacked capacity to manage the 2019 elections.

But Mutharika in his statement noted that the commissioners were not faulted for their management of the 2019 parliamentary and local government elections.

“Apparently, the Malawi Electoral Commission had the competency and capacity to manage the local and parliamentary elections but lacked the competence and capacity to manage the presidential elections. The president finds this position laughable,” reads part of Mutharika’s statement.

According to Mutharika, the decision of the committee was possibly prejudiced by the ruling of the Constitutional Court that nullified the 2019 elections.

The court in its 3 February ruling ordered Parliament to inquire into the competence of the MEC commissioners over the management of the 2019 elections which the court said were affected by widespread irregualrities.

Mutharika noted that the judgment of the court is itself under appeal.

He further faulted the committee for not including, in its report, the letters of invitation for the MEC commissioners to attend the hearings.

He added that the commissioners were not given adequate time to prepare for the hearings and were not given the right to be represented by lawyers at the hearing.

Mutharika further said that the report does not indicate whether any of the commissioners were given specific particulars of incompetence or incapacity in the letters of invitation to the hearing which would have allowed them to prepare.

“The report has failed to establish that members of the committee individually or collectively lacked competence or capacity,” said Mutharika.

He added that report’s findings are questionable because the report does not factor in the role of other stakeholders in agreeing with the commissioners on procedural issues.

“[The report] puts the whole blame on the commissioners,” said Mutharika.