Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Dr. Jane Ansa

It is difficult to imagine that Dr Jane Ansah, the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission is heartless and cold. It is hard to conceive that this Justice of Appeal whose head the Malawian public is demanding to be presented to it on a platter for allegedly botching up last May’s elections is so callous that she would rather see the country go up in flames rather than resign and save her nation.

The real question that must be pursued is: Why is she seemingly insensitive and uncaring in the face of so much turmoil apparently focused on her?

The answer is a complex one.

To those enjoying the benefits and rewards of the election results she declared, her resignation would apparently signal that she concedes that her management of the elections was incompetent and flawed, and therefore put their own positions at risk. The list of presently high-ranking officials that are where they are because of Ansah’s declaration of Peter Mutharika as the winner of the May elections is long enough to fill this whole column and the columns of my friends Made Musa and Moshoud Pinkus Mbewe.

Chief Director for public sector reforms in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Seodi White a March in defence of a ‘fellow woman’ Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah

Thus, to Peter Mutharika, the DPP and its supporters, Jane Ansah must remain firmly where she is come rain or sunshine, hail or highwater. If you think of the Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, for instance, then you realise that he wouldn’t be Attorney General and enjoying the esteem he is currently enjoying if Jane Ansah had not declared Peter Mutharika the Winner, and Mutharika in turn appointed him as Attorney General. In this same vein, think of important positions like Duncan Mwapasa’s Deputy Inspector General of Police, or those cabinet ministers who even now have already started amassing vast amounts of unexplained wealth.

demos in Support of Ansah
Protesters during a Jane Ansah solidarity march in Blantyre- Photo By Lameck Masina/VOA

There is also another consideration. It is widely believed – although mistakenly so, I submit – that if the demonstrators and the protestors get their wish and Jane’s head is delivered to them, they will be emboldened and set their sights on Peter Mutharika himself. Those postulating this line of thought believe that after the demand to have Jane Ansah resign is met, the next head to be chopped will be that of Peter himself. And of course, that means that once again following my reasoning above, the DPP house of cards will come tumbling down with immense disastrous consequences.

Looked at from this perspective then, one may be justified to argue that the reason Jane Ansah seems to have become deaf and blind ever since her “Madando” elections is not really because she has chosen of her own accord to do so, but that she is at the proverbial gunpoint courtesy of the DPP beneficiaries of the “Tipp-ex” election.

demos against Ansah

There is no way, as far as I can imagine, that in all this post-election fiasco, Dr Ansah would not have communicated to Peter Mutharika and indicated that for the benefit of the nation, she must succumb to popular opinion, resign and quench the fires of public anger currently raging across the country. In my view, this proposal from her ladyship must have been turned down vehemently by DPP shot-callers. She would probably have even been called selfish for suggesting such an action that dignifies only her and exposes the president and the whole cohort of Muhlakho heavyweights and beneficiaries to uncertain fates.

So, there you have it. In spite of strong advice and pleading not only from national commentators but also, I am certain, from family, friends, and I dare say probably even her fellow Supreme court colleagues, Calamity Jane has decided to stay put and play dumb because the President, Muhlakho wa alomwe, and the DPP have said so.

So now to the real question.  Should she still resign in defiance of the gun places to her head by the DPP machinery? And could there be some good for the DPP in Calamity Jane’s resignation?

The answer to both questions is YES. Integrity only happens after one cross the line of convenience and the boundaries of safety. For Dr Jane Ansah, this is no longer a question of whether the public is right or wrong in their assertions that she botched up the elections. The issue has long since moved away from that to one of whether or not she cares enough about what is currently happening in the country – the innocents that are being hurt, the property that is being destroyed and the political impasse that is economically crippling the country – to put personal safety and comfort aside, take the path of sacrifice and assist in healing a nation.

Saulos Chilima
Troubled looking Petitioner 1 Saulos Chilima coming out of Court

For the DPP, it’s a question of statesmanship and a demonstration of confidence in their win and their faith that the Rule of law can prevail and justify their claim that their candidate won the election fair and square. Allowing Jane Ansah to resign will not result in further demands for Peter Mutharika to also resign. This is a misconceived belief. Peter Mutharika’s position at the moment, is protected by the rule of Law and the country’s constitution. On the other hand, to let the nation go through the chaos and uncertainty it is going through belies the podium statements and the claims that the election was in fact fair, that the DPP has nothing to fear for its candidate, and that the constitutional court case will vindicate him and affirm that election and that victory.

I believe that Jane Ansah should find the courage to resign because the people that are demonstrating will not stop to demonstrate until this demand is met, and also because the demonstrations and protests will continue to escalate the impasse due to the fact that the government agents that are supposed to handle these matters are all in their positions courtesy of the very president whose legitimacy is being challenged. From the Attorney General, to the Inspector General of police, to Cabinet ministers, all these individuals have a conflict of interest and cannot be unbiased in their approach as they deal with the demonstrations and the unrest that the country is experiencing.

The only thing that can give this country repose and a period of peace- at least up until the elections case is decided by the courts- is for Jane Ansah to do the honorable thing. In the final analysis, the reason she is not resigning is simply cowardice and misplaced loyalty. She doesn’t have the balls to make the tough decision to save this nation.

But resignation here is what separates patriots from puppets. Resignation here will make her the hero, not the villain.

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