Some concerned citizens have taken President Peter Mutharika to court for failing to fire Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah and other MEC commissioners.
The concerned citizens have also sued Ansah and MEC commissioners for failing to resign after some Malawians demanded that they do so and the Constitutional Court and Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (PAC) found them to have incompetently managed the May 21 2019 presidential election.
The concerned citizens, Thokozani Chenjezi, George Ngwenyama Ngwira and Aaron Kayira, have since made an application to the High Court in Lilongwe seeking leave to move for judicial review of the President’s decision not to fire Ansah and other MEC commissioners and to move for judicial review of Ansah and other commissioners decision not to step down when they had been asked to.
They are also seeking an injunction to restrain MEC commissioners from operating in that capacity.
The three, who have engaged lawyer George Kadzipatike, state in their affidavits that they fear that taxpayers money will be at risk since they already failed to protect taxpayers money in the nullified presidential election.
Reads the affidavit in part: “Several billions of kwacha from both taxpayers and donors, are at stake, in the repeat presidential elections. I and the other claimants, have resolved not to take chances. It is glaringly risky for the 2nd to 10th defendants [commissioners] to be allowed to run the fresh election as they have collectively been judicially pronounced to be incompetent.”
The applicants also tendered the PAC report, which also recommended the commissioners’ removal from office, in court.
“Ever since the report was produced and submitted to the 1st Defendant [Mutharika], he has neglected to act on it and up to now, the 2nd to 10th Defendants (commissioners) are still working as members of the Electoral Commission,” reads the affidavit signed by Chenjezi.
Kadzipatike yesterday confirmed handling the case filed at the High Court in Lilongwe.
He said: “There are two alternative reliefs that we are seeking from the court. Either the court has to issue an order compelling the President to remove the commissioners from office or to declare that the commissioners cease to hold office.
“Pending the determination of the matter, we would like to obtain an order of injunction.”
Asked if the other parties had been served, Kadzipatike said the application was exparte and there was no need to serve them.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani said the three were entitled to seek the court’s intervention, adding it is every citizen’s right to move the courts if they feel aggrieved.
However, he said feeling aggrieved in itself does not mean one has valid reasons to do so.
Said Kalilani: “One can also feel aggrieved due to lack of knowledge or indeed, personal bias. The court decides whether an action brought before it is meritorious, a waste of time or an abuse of the court process. Let them exercise their right. They shall be responded to accordingly.”
Asked why the President has not fired commissioners as demanded by some quarters, Kalilani said presidential constitutional powers to remove or retain MEC commissioners are discretionary.
“We cannot be reflecting on an authority’s discretion. Doing so is being contemptuous of the discretion,” he said.
On his part, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said he was not aware of the case; hence, he could not comment.
“When brought to our attention, we shall respond accordingly ,” he said.