The Judiciary says former Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah complicated her travel plans by failing to notify the Chief Justice of her trip to United Kingdom (UK) via Mchinji Border Post.
Ansah, who is also Judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, was denied access to exit the country through the border en route to Zambia where she was expected to board a flight next week and fly out to the UK on holiday pending her retirement in October this year.
But responding to The Nation‘s query on Ansah’s failed trip, High Court and Malalwi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba in an interview yesterday said ordinarily, any judge is expected to notify the office of the Chief Justice when travelling outside the country.
She said: “The office of Chief Justice was not aware of her external trip. Every judge is expected to notify the office of Chief Justice even on personal trips. She omitted that process.”
But in a separate interview, Ansah said she felt victimised and was shocked with the action by immigration officers.
She said she did not take leave of absence from the office of the Chief Justice because “the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda did not pick my calls”.
However, Ansah said a letter of notification had already been written to the Chief Justice and what remained was to deliver it.
She said she was stopped by police officers at Namitete Roadblock on her way to Mchinji for 15 minutes before she was told to proceed.
Said Ansah: “I feel threatened and insecure. After my passport was stamped at Mchinji Border, they told me to wait in the car and later officers came to tell me that the boss had said I have no travel permit and needed to get permission from government. I called the chief immigration officer Mr Medi who referred me to the Foreign Affairs help desk, and the desk officer told me to wait for his boss who was attending the inauguration ceremony.”
She said she was later referred to Chief Secretary to Government Zangazanga Chikhosi who advised her that she was supposed to take leave from the Chief Justice before embarking on her journey.
The former MEC chairperson added that the official government vehicle she was using on the trip was supposed to drop her at the border where a friend from Zambia was waiting to pick her up.
She said she already has an air ticket for her flight next week and that if she misses her flight then someone has to refund her for the expense.
Ansah also said she was also cleared of coronavirus (Covid-19) after testing negative and was issued a certificate.
In a telephone interview yesterday, officer in-charge at Mchinji boarder Steve Chirambo indicated that Ansah was stopped and returned because currently, borders are almost closed and only essential goods and services are being allowed in and outside the country due to Covid-19.
Said Chirambo: “She did not give satisfactory reasons that would amount to essential services, that is why we did not allow her to exit the country. She said she was going on a holiday.”