Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says it will hold fresh demonstrations from Wednesday to Friday this week and petition Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF) delegates meeting in Blantyre.
HRDC acting national chairperson Happy Mhango said yesterday his grouping was shocked at the Sadc ECF move to hold their meeting in Malawi at a time there is a pending dispute in court relating to management of presidential election results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
“This means that the arrogance does not end in Malawi, but it is spread to other Sadc countries; hence, we will petition them,” he said.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is hosting the Sadc ECF conference from yesterday to Friday in Blantyre.
However, Sadc secretariat earlier clarified that the ECF is not an organ or affiliate of the regional bloc despite using the name Sadc.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday afternoon, the HRDC leadership led by Tembo said they are targeting Sadc to let them know that Malawians are not happy with the management of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Said Tembo: “Our next demonstrations will be on the 25th of September. Let me clarify that this time we will only do it in Blantyre from Kamuzu Stadium upper ground to Sunbird Mount Soche. We will not disperse until our petition has been addressed and responded to. We cannot say what is in the petition, but suffice to say we want electoral justice.”
During yesterday’s briefing, HRDC national chairperson Timothy Mtambo and vice-chairperson Gift Trapence were not present as they were reported to be out of the country.
Meanwhile, Chancellor College-based political scientist Mustafa Hussein has said there is nothing wrong with HRDC presenting the petition to the Sadc ECF, saying it is a pressure point they have used to get attention and answers.
He said: “Demonstrations have a cause. Malawi is part of Sadc, so there is no problem in HRDC presenting it at the summit to Sadc. But I am not in a position to judge if holding a vigil within the premises is right or wrong because that is what HRDC has chosen.”
Since MEC chairperson Jane Ansah declared Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate President Peter Mutharika winner of the May 21 presidential race, HRDC has been leading a series of nationwide demonstrations and vigils demanding the resignation of Ansah and her commissioners. They allege that the electoral process was flawed, citing use of correctional fluid to allegedly alter figures on results sheets as one of the problems.
Mutharika’s challengers, his former vice-president Saulos Chilima who contested on UTM Party ticket and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lazarus Chakwera, are also challenging the results in court. A five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court is hearing the case.
Ansah, a jusge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, is on record as having said she will not resign unless the court finds her in the wrong.
Mutharika also told BBC that he cannot fire Ansah.
Besides the court process and demonstrations, influential groups such as the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) are also engaging the political leaders in a dialogue process.