The country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima has alleged that Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah favoured President Peter Mutharika in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections to the disadvantage of his challengers.
In a letter to Ansah dated June 7 2019, Chilima, who debuted on the presidential ballot on a UTM Party ticket and faced his former boss Mutharika alongside five others, claims that the MEC chairperson was overheard clearly indicating that she would rather have Mutharika win than Chilima or Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera.
Reads the letter in part: “You told members of the commission that you would be greatly grateful if they helped you ensure that Professor Mutharika gets re-elected.
“You specifically mentioned that you did not want Rev. Dr Chakwera to get elected because his running mate [Muhammad Sidik Mia] is a Muslim. You further told them that I am too ambitious and hence, not fit to be elected.”
In the letter, Chilima, who claims to have evidence on the allegations against Ansah, said he had expected the chairperson, who is a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, to provide “solid and impartial leadership” of the commission and steer the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections.
He said: “Instead, it is blatantly clear that you showed your preferences for Prof Mutharika in the manner you dealt with queries and complaints in your general conduct.”
Chilima says there are witnesses willing to testify on the claims he has levelled against Ansah.
The letter also faults Ansah for attending a private celebration for Mutharika’s victory and claiming at various press briefings that UTM Party did not submit queries about the electoral process to MEC.
Chilima could not be reached for comment yesterday, but one of his aides confirmed the authenticity of the letter and alleged it could have been leaked by MEC officials or Ansah’s sympathisers.
The leakage of the letter, which Chilima indicated at a news conference in Lilongwe on Friday that it was privately sent to Ansah, has come a day after the expiry of the five-day ultimatum he gave the chairperson to respond or resign or risk the contents being made public.
The Nation could not independently verify the allegations and has seen no evidence of the multiple allegations the UTM leader has made in the letter.
Yesterday, Ansah could not personally be reached for comment on several attempts, but MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafuriwa said the commission would not respond to the allegations as they revolve around issues currently in court.
Chakwera’s aides yesterday said the two-time presidential candidate would not comment on the matter as he was yet to review the evidence Chilima’s team have assembled.
Besides the opposition, some civil society groups have also ganged up against Ansah and the commission, accusing them of messing up the electoral process and have since organised nationwide demonstrations following Ansah’s refusal to resign.
MEC on May 27 declared Mutharika winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent followed by Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent while Chilima finished third and ahead of four other aspirants with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.
In the parliamentary race, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 62 seats in the 193-seat National Assembly while MCP and independents got 55 each. The other seats were shared as follows United Democratic Front (UDF) has 10, People’s Party (PP) won five, UTM Party got four and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) has one. Parliamentary elections were held in 192 constituencies.
While several election observer missions, both local and international, declared the electoral process free and fair, others, including the local quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and the European Union Election Observer Mission expressed some reservations.
In its analysis of the polls, PAC said the results management process lacked credibility, especially in the wake of revelations of use of Tippex, a correction fluid MEC admitted was not part of its inventory.
The European Union Election Observer Mission also faulted the results management system.
During press briefings, Ansah said there were 147 complaints lodged and that the issue of Tippex was resolved.