Dr. Ansah, Commissioners Summoned To Parliament
Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Dr. Jane Ansah, and her eight other commissioners are expected to appear before the Public Appointment Committee of Parliament on Monday as the committee begins responding to recent orders of the Constitutional Court in the unprecedented ruling of the presidential election case.
The committee has specifically been tasked to inquire into the capacity and competence of the Electoral Commission’s current commissioners, to oversee the conduct of the fresh election which the court has ordered to be held within 150 days from February 3rd, 2020.
The Parliamentary Committee is expected to do this in terms of section 75 sub section (4) of the Malawi Constitution.
MEC chairperson Dr. Ansah, who has since gone on leave pending retirement, is expected before the committee alongside; Bishop Mary Nkosi, Dr. Jean Mathanga, Hon. Mrs. Elvey Mtafu, Rev. Dr. Killin Mgawi, Ambassador Yahaya M'madi, Mrs. Linde Kunje, Dr. Moffat Banda, and Rev. Clifford Baloyi.
In the mix of the political turmoil that has erupted after delivery of the February 3rd ruling, there was a document flying around purporting to have been written by the Chief Executive Officer for MEC, Sam Alufandika, but which MEC disowns.
The communication is requesting a 21-day extension on summons for the commissioners to appear before the PAC for the inquiry on the basis that the commissioners need to prepare well before appearing before the committee as the judgment was 500 pages long and the commissioners would need legal counsel first.
But a senior officer at Parliament says PAC has yet to receive the letter in circulation.
“The letter (in circulation) is not there. The Commissioners are appearing before PAC as summoned,” said the official.
Implicitly, accepting such a request would mean the commissioners would only be ready to face the committee early March.
But asked on the authenticity of the document in circulation, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said: “Well, there has been communication exchange between the commission and Parliament. So I will not comment regarding the authenticity of the documents in public circulation”.
The Constitutional Court also ordered Parliament to take appropriate legislative measures to ensure that:
* the significance of the certainty which is brought by the fixing of the date of the general election under section 67 (1) of the Constitution is preserved; and
*whoever is elected President of the Republic during the fresh elections, is allowed to serve the constitutionally prescribed five-year term.
*The Public Appointments Committee of the National Assembly should, in terms of section 75 (4) of the Constitution, inquire into the capacity and competence of the Electoral Commission’s current commissioners, to oversee the conduct of the fresh elections;
*Parliament should take necessary amendment action in respect of section 75 (1) of the Constitution so that the appointing authority of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission is clearly provided for; and
*Parliament must, within 21 days from the date of the ruling make appropriate provisions for the holding of the Presidential run off in the event that no single candidate secures the constitutional majority under section 80 (2) of the Constitution as interpreted by the court.
The Constitutional Court has given Parliament 21 days from the date of the ruling within which to make the legislative arrangements and in order to comply with the orders of the Court, (as such) Parliament of Malawi:
*has made arrangements for the Legal Affairs Committee as well as the public Appointments Committee to come up with necessary reports and draft Bills to put into effect the orders of the court;
*is liaising with the Office of the Solicitor General on the possibility of complementing each other in coming up with such Bills to be passed by the House during the forthcoming 3rd Meeting of Parliament in the 48th Session; and
*through the Business Committee which met on 5th February, 2020, space has been provided for the Bills and committee reports to be considered and passed/adopted by the House before 24th February, 2020 when the 21 days period ordered by the Constitutional Court comes to an end.