The Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament report on the nine commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission who handled the May 21 2019 elections, says none deserves to manage an election.
The committee, whose report follows an assessment it conducted into the competence of the commissioners in line with Constitutional Court ruling, has since asked President Peter Mutharika to appoint another commission.
The report, which we have seen, has also condemned MEC chairperson Jane Ansah for failing to act within the law despite her legal training and vast experience in law.
Reads the report in part: “She demonstrated a certain level of incompetence that would not be expected of a person in her position. Clearly, guided by her incompetence and fortified because of her position, the other commissioners blindly followed her into the irregularities that led to the nullification of the polls.
“The committee further observed that she was unrepentant, an attitude that disqualifies her from learning from her mistakes and, therefore, not capable of improving on the errors she made during the May, 2019 elections,” reads part of the report sent to the President for action.
Though commissioner Mary Nkosi received some praise from the public for her revelations, the committee faulted her for keeping information to herself until the time of the inquiry. Nkosi is also disqualified on her own explanation that she could not resign in the interest of benefits.
“The committee was fortified in finding that commissioner Nkosi would only stand up for what is right if her financial position was not affected, by the efforts she took to resign only if her benefits would be kept. It is shocking that a person who clearly admitted to the commission not doing well expected to be rewarded for the shoddy work she did. Commissioner Nkosi is incompetent and lacked those values that would enable her to oversee a successful election”.
On commissioner Linda Kunje, the report says she demonstrated sufficient knowledge of what the commission is supposed to do but chose to act differently for unknown personal interest. PAC further chides the commissioner for what they call insolence committee. during her appearance before the
The report also says commissioner Kilion Mgawi has been disqualified on grounds of ill-health as elections are a strenuous activity that would require someone fit.
“The committee was told that the commissioner’s blood pressure had gone up so much upon receiving the invitation to appear before it. The Committee, therefore, noted that since the subsequent elections were to be held very soon and Dr. Mgawi had been given several opportunities to appear and for his health could not and also apprehensive of the pressure involved in organising, conducting and determining an electoral results, finds commissioner Dr. Mgawi not fit to manage the fresh election on account of his health,” the report reads.
Commissioner Clifford Baloyi is also, among others, accused of failing to make independent decisions but relied on what he was told by either fellow commissioners or outsiders.
The report further finds commissioner Elvey Ntafu lacking basic knowledge on conducting elections wondered how she has been maintained since 2012. The committee said commissioner Moffat Banda, who boasted of personal success in management both in private and public institutions, failed to make use of his skills hence he cannot be entrusted with the same responsibility of managing fresh elections.
In its general observation and conclusion, PAC has condemned the whole commission as incompetent asking the President to appoint a new one.
“The commissioners either knew what they were supposed to do or not. These commissioners breached the law by running a flawed election whose process was marred with serious irregularities and illegalities. These commissioners lack the capacity needed to hold the next election as commissioners must be people willing to abide by law,” reads the report.
In a telephone interview on Saturday, PAC chairperson Collins Kajawa said it is their hope that the President will respect their recommendation. Kajawa said Mutharika has always responded favourably to PAC’s recommendation.
The PAC chair said political parties ought to begin scouting for possible commissioners in readiness for the fresh election. He said the selection process of the next commissioners will be more rigorous and will critically assess competence.
“We are hopeful the President will do what is right in the best interest of the public. We have done our part to respect the court order and I guess every stakeholder will do the same. We have no good reason to think that the State President will not act on our recommendation. Our plea is that we need to act with speed,” he said. Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalirani said the President is currently looking at the PAC report.