Former Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah was yesterday allowed to cross the border into Zambia after she produced a letter of approval from Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
She has since demanded an explanation from Immigration and Police officers for allegedly frustrating her trip to Lusaka from where she is expected to fly to the United Kingdom (UK) today.
In a telephone interview from Zambia yesterday, Ansah described the action by the authorities as harassment.
She said: “The Immigration and Police must come out straight and inform me, my family and the nation why they harassed me. A letter of permission to travel used to be required during the Kamuzu era. When we migrated to multiparty democracy we are no longer required to show a letter of permission when exiting the country. All I can say is praise the Lord I am safely in Zambia.”
Ansah further said the letter of notification which she produced at the border is not a permission but only meant to serve as a contact point should the Chief Justice wish to get in touch with her.
In a separate interview, Immigration Department spokesperson for Mchinji Madalitso Banda said Ansah was granted access to cross the border around 8am after producing the letter.
In a memo titled ‘Leave Outside Malawi’ dated July 4 2020 addressed to the Chief Justice and approved on July 6 2020, Ansah stated that she planned to depart on Monday and return on September 3 2020.
The letter also stated that her flight to the UK is scheduled for July 8 2020 on Ethiopian Airways.
Reads the memo in part: “I have received clearance from the ministries of Health of both the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of Zambia in order for me to undertake this trip.”
In an interview on Monday, High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba said Ansah may have complicated her own travel plans by not notifying the Chief Justice about her trip.
Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, earlier said she did not take leave of absence from her boss because the Chief Justice did not pick her calls.
In a telephone interview on Monday, officer in-charge at Mchinji Border Post, Steve Chirambo, said 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.