LILONGWE (MalawiTalk) – The Ombudsman report has faulted former Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Dr Jane Ansah and former Attorney General Mr Kalekeni Kaphale in the manner they procured the service of South African lawyers to represented it in the Presidential Election Case and ordered each to refund K3 million which the Commission spent on the lawyers when they were in the country.
Ombudsman Ms Martha Chizuma released the report on an investigation into alleged acts of abuse of power and other acts of maladministration in the procedure of procuring and engaging South African lawyers by the former Attorney General and former MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, who was a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
“There was abuse of power by the former Attorney General and former Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson. They even facilitated the travel of these lawyers to Malawi way before the procurement of their services,” said Chizuma.
She said: “The two senior public officers completely disregarded provisions of the law.”
The Ombudsman has also faulted how government through then Chief Secretary Lloyd Muhara illegally appointed lawyer Madalitso Mmeta as Board Chairperson of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) who in turn bulldozed the contract of the lawyers.
MEC came under the spotlight when it engaged South African legal firm Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys for a contract sum of $788 500 (about K600 million), half of which had to be paid in advance on or by March 13 2020.
The electoral body wanted the South African lawyers to represent it in an appeal case against the decision by a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court which on February 3 2020 nullified the May 21 2019 Presidential Election over irregularities.
The lawyers did not attend the appeal hearing due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The court granted the petitioners, Dr Saulos Chilima of UTM Party and Dr Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party, their wish for a fresh election
Malawi Law Society which also opposed the hiring of the South African lawyers, has welcomed the Ombudsman report.