On July 6, 2019, a group of Malawian women, led by long-time gender activist Seodi White and Minister of Gender, orchestrating the group called Forum for Concerned Women. White said that there are systematic humiliation, defamation in the face of patriarchy and misogyny meted out to MEC Chairperson Justice dr. Jane Ansah.
Malawians (men and women) led by the MCP leader Chakwera, UTM leader Saulos Chilima and others have been converging onto the streets to protest the MEC Chair’s announcing Peter Mutharika as the winner of the May 21 elections, although there is massive evidence of wrongdoing.
The Forum is standing in solidarity with Dr. Ansah and speaking out against the gender abuse, intimidation, patriarchy, and misogyny. This is amid tears from White and the Gender Minister.
The Maravi Post wishes to affirm that there is no basis for the lame argument. There are two reasons for this affirmation.
Firstly, it has been over 37 days since the announcement and almost daily thousands of people have gathered. Where have the Forum been? Why are they coming out now? The MEC Chair has been fighting a lone battle that has included erroneously going on a national media outlet and basically tampering with elements of a matter that is in court.
Where have members of this Forum of concerned Women been since May 29, 2019?
Secondly, White is a lawyer and has been championing women’s rights. However, the Maravi Post is concerned that the actions have the very appearance of selectivity. This can never be the method of operation. We take this stand and ask the Forum where was this group when former President Joyce Banda for over many years was hounded by the DPP government? Banda was repeatedly harassed as she served as Vice President, so where was the Forum? Where was the Forum when Banda was caused to flee the country and was exiled due to trumped up charges of corruption, charges that failed to stick?
Where were they when Patricia Kaliati was ran-off the road in an orchestrated car accident? Where were they when Margaret Mbilizi Sawerengera (late) had her votes stolen, by the male misogynists in the parties she contested? Rewind to other times in Malawi’s history, where were these good women when their fellow women jeered at former official hostess Mama C Tamanda Kadzamira? This was when the UDF women marched to Sanjika Palace to ask then President Muluzi to kick her out of Mudi House since it was the prison holding former President Kamuzu Banda. (It took Muluzi refusing to receive the letter, thereby squashing the request, and the call by the women died.
Where was this Forum when the current president removed Malawi’s first female Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa, who ably served as MEC Chair during the 1993 Referendum and the 1994 Tripartite elections? She was removed from office of the Chief Justice. But none of the members of the Concerned Forum, shed a single tear for Msosa’s removal.
There are many other examples of women that were removed from office like Esnath Kaliyati, Matilda Katopola, Malawi’s first female Inspector General (IG) of Police Mary Nangwale (late). More importantly, where were the tears for the women who stood in line for hours waiting to vote, only to have their votes Tippexed away?
We at the Maravi Post believe some tears for all these other great Malawi women, would have paved the way for great solidarity, fighting abuse of women and stumping misogyny.
We are of the strong opinion that Justice Jane Ansah is not being singled out because she is a woman. This is because if a man had made the mistakes Ansah made, the national reaction would have been the same. If anyone is in doubt, and if one could, then they’d be pointed to the tenure of late Stuart Winga; additionally, consider how mercilessly Malawians dealt with late Mbendela and his crying saga when he announced Mutharika as the winner in 2014.
Among the wrongdoing that the Forum could consider for the May 21, 2019 elections, are that at a Court-ordered inspection where officials from MCP, UTM, MEC, DPP, and Parliament, were present. We understand that these took place in Blantyre Mangochi, Thyolo, Machinga, Mulanje, Balaka and Nsanje. According to reliable reports, there is heavy evidence of rigging, with most MEC Official Results Sheets are missing and strange and old ballot boxes were used, and fake ballot papers found.
As Chancellor College Law Professor Garton Kamchedzera said Justice Jane made wrong judgement calls. Malawians marching on the streets these past 37 days, women among them, are doing this because of a variety of mistakes; the protest marches have nothing to do with gender inequality, patriarchy, the desire of men to control women, or misogyny. We acknowledge that these evils (gender discrimination and misogyny) exist in Malawi; however, they are not part of the reasoning for the call for the MEC Chair’s resignation.
Both men and women believe that calling for Ansah to resign, is a good thing for Malawi women because Malawians will be saying NO to the alleged wrong-doing of the DPP government and the people it has corrupted; that is, the demonstrations are against Ansah not because she is a female, but rather because she appears to have actively allowed rigging to happen.
That is why the Maravi Post states this is not a gender issue. The battle is not against women, it is against an official caught in wrongdoing. Male or female, when caught in wrongdoing, arguably, justice must appear, and it must appear to prevail. This is the tenets of the rule of law.