BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—After a protracted debate over the eligibility of commissioners Linda Kunje and Jean Mathanga at Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec), the High Court in Blantyre has finally ruled in favour of the duo.
Mathanga and Kunje were fired from the electoral body by President Lazarus Chakwera on grounds that they were found incompetent by both the High Court and Supreme Court Appeal last year regarding the manner in which they handled the botched 2019 Tripartite Elections under the leadership of Justice Jane Ansah.
But giving the much awaited verdict on Friday, Judge Kack Nriva ordered President Chakwera to immediately formally appoint the two commissioners.
Nriva also ordered government to pay honoraria to the claimants while the office of the President will shoulder the legal costs.
Chakwera went ahead with his decision to fire the two commissioners despite getting legal advice from the country’s Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe, who argued that maintaining the composition of the MEC commission would be “neater and mature political pragmatism.”
In a letter dated April 7 and addressed to Kunje and Mathanga, Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Zangazanga Chikhosi told the two commissioners that their appointments made by former President Peter Mutharika last year had been rescinded with immediate effect.
“The rescission is on the basis that you were adjudged incompetent by the Supreme Court of Appeal on 8th May, 2020 in MSCA Constitutional Appeal no.1 of 2020 regarding the manner in which you handled the 2019 General Elections,” said Chikhosi.
According to Chikhosi, the Supreme Court ruling disqualified Mathanga and Kunje from being appointed as MEC commissioners.
But rights group and law experts had cautioned Chakwera against ignoring the legal opinion of the Attorney General Silungwe on the status of the embattled Commissioners.
Private practice lawyer Burton Mhango, was on record saying the two could defend their competence having been part of the commissioners who declared the incumbent President Chakwera winner of the 2020 fresh presidential poll.
The Chakwera’s government arrogance over the eligibility of the two commissioners will see taxpayers’ money being channeled towards legal costs for a case that could be avoided if the government listened to AG’s legal advice.
Mathanga and Kunje were part of the MEC commission which managed the 2019 tripartite elections. The elections were later nullified by the Constitutional Court which also found the MEC commissioners to have been incompetent.
However, Mutharika re-appointed the two to the commission in June last year.