News that the embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah has written her appointing authority that she wants to step aside from her position has been received with mixed reactions although the general feeling is that her ‘stepping aside’ is long overdue.
Her resignation comes after a series of protests by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) that at times turned violent.
Her decision, though, only adds to the uncertainty surrounding the fresh presidential election by not spelling out explicitly when she is really stepping aside.
In her own words, she is waiting for the appointing authority’s response. This is quite vague and a reason those who are celebrating her announcement on Friday night should wait for a moment before breaking into celebrations.
The appointing authority that Ansah is talking about is not known for having swift feet, neither is he known for having a listening ear. The appointing authority is known for dragging his feet and procrastinating. He is also well known for being distant to reality and shutting himself out, hoping problems will go away on their own. With this in mind, I insist, let us wait a bit.
The other issue is that we are not yet privy to the contents of the letter. We do not know when exactly she is stepping down. What if she in that letter she says she will step aside after presiding over the fresh election? Therein, also lies a big problem, and why her announcement has been received with doubt.
Again, Ansah is a person known for backtracking on her own statements. Not long ago, at the height of the HRDC mass demonstrations she said she would resign if the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) found her incompetent.
Well, the court did find her and her entire team incompetent. Did she resign? Then she changed tune after the February 3 ConCourt ruling, that she would do so if the Supreme Court of Appeal agrees with the ConCourt. And again, the Supreme Court found her incompetent. Did she resign immediately? No.
As it is, what Malawians should be pressing for is for the appointing authority to be swift in dismissing Ansah. This country needs to move on and should not be held at a ransom by one person and her supposedly political friends.
History will be harsh on Ansah, a woman who in her lifetime has achieved a lot worthy celebrating. But one moment of indecision on her part has cost her all that she has worked hard for. People will remember Ansah a woman who botched up the elections. The argument of whether she did so intentionally or not is irrelevant.
I wish Ansah had stepped aside the first time calls for her resignation were made. I am all for fighting and standing your ground, but the wise know when it is time to bow down and leave the stage.
Wishing Ansah the best life can give in her next move. n