- Tells PAC he cannot fire MEC commissioners
- Accuses body of non-action on protests
President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday stuck to his earlier stance on not firing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners, insisting there is nothing wrong with the commission.
The President reiterated his position on Wednesday when he met Public Affairs Committee (PAC) members at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre to discuss issues of national interest such as the call to fire MEC commissioners who the High Court of Malawi sitting as a Constitutional Court and Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee said were not competent to conduct elections.
During the meeting, PAC also asked Mutharika to consider assenting to the Electoral Reforms Bills which Parliament passed and shared its observations on the fight against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
But in an interview after the meeting, PAC chairperson Monsignor Patrick Thawale said Mutharika expressed reservations on calls to fire the commissioners, arguing that he found nothing wrong with the commission during the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He said: “On the firing of MEC commissioners, he [Mutharika] said it is an issue that may not be implemented so quickly. In other words for the President, he feels MEC has no issues.”
On the Electoral Reforms Bills, Thawale said Mutharika faulted the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgement that nullified the May 212019 presidential election.
Said Thawale: “He [Mutharika] said he has reservations on the way the lawyers handled the election issues. He feels they could have done better.”
However, the Monsignor said the committee will meet to discuss the way forward on the matter.
Earlier in the meeting, which lasted about two and a half hours, Mutharika took a swipe at PAC, saying the quasi-religious body has been silent for the past nine months when the country was rocked with waves of demonstrations and violence.
He observed that in every election, the committee always insists that political leaders must commit to peace and accept results of the elections but he wondered if PAC has fulfilled its duty in the 2019 election.
Said Mutharika: “I and many other Malawians are disappointed that PAC failed to criticise violence for nine good months. I want to put it on record before you that the country is in the current political situation because of three things:
“(a) Some political leaders decided not to accept results of the election; (b) Some political leaders decided to use violence and (c) 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”.
He advised the committee that, as founders and custodians of the country’s democracy, it needs to know that Malawians have allowed the democracy to be hijacked and destroyed before PAC’s 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,” said Mutharika.
The President also asked PAC how it will ensure that the loser in the July 2 fresh presidential election accepts the results.
But in his response in an interview, Thawale said “As PAC, we can dialogue with them but we can’t assure them that they will or will not accept the outcome of the elections because they have the decision.”
On coronavirus the committee discouraged the copy and paste approach on lockdown saying this could be counter-productive, given that the Malawian society is different from communities in other countries.
The five-judge panel comprising Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo and Dingiswayo Madise on February 3 this year nullified the presidential election in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and directed that a fresh election be held within 150 days of the ruling.
The ConCourt said MEC failed in all constitutional tests it set out on the elections and that the irregularities were so glaring that the credibility of the election was in question.