By Morton Sibale, Mana
MEC commissioner Linda Kunje Tuesday afternoon riled members of the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (PAC) when she said that they (the members) were in their positions ‘through the very same forms and commission that they are questioning.’
Kunje made the remarks when she appeared before the committee to answer questions in the ongoing inquiry into the competence of the current MEC commissioners, following last week’s nullification of the 2019 presidential election results by the constitutional court.
The remark came in the midst of what was a visibly tensed exchange of utterances between the commissioner and members of the committee, who on several occasions accused Kunje of contempt and evading questions.
At one point, PAC chairperson, Collins Kajawa adjourned the hearing and temporarily sent Kunje out of the hearing room, to allow the members discuss her conduct and the manner of her responses, after constantly warning Kunje that the committee ‘will not play her game’.
The members on several occasions insisted that the commissioner was either evading questions or attempting to respond in a manner that departed from the prescribed protocol of the committee, an accusation Kunje once described as ‘injustice to my natural justice’.
Kunje among other things told the committee that the law is silent on a number of things including the use of tippex (correction fluid), as such she could not say whether the commission broke the electoral laws when it used altered tally sheets to determine the results.
Kunje further said that it was the decision of the commissioners to delegate the Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alufandika to write BDO Jordan (contracted auditing firm) to change some of the parts of their final report.
Asked by reporters to clarify on her controversial statement and whether she feared for her job following her conduct during the hearing, Kunje was defiant saying she did what was required of her.
“I just came here to do what they required of me. The members of the committee are being called honourable members because of the very forms they are questioning. So if I am incompetent, they are equally incompetent,” Kunje said.
She also ripped into the conduct of the committee, accusing the members of being prejudiced against the commission and having an already formed negative opinion of the commissioners.
“The honourable members already have preconceived ideas about the commission and that’s dangerous. Unfortunately, if someone has already set a wrong tone and they would like to believe or carry on with that there is nothing much I can do about it,” said Kunje.
Commenting on the accusations that the committee had already formed an opinion against the commissioners, PAC Chair, Collins Kajawa said some commissioners already had default commissioners and failed to accept the gaps that were there during the polls.
“All we are trying to do is hear their side of the story because we are a separate arm of government. The interpretation that we already have an opinion against them is a misconception because we want to understand from their first hand experiences,” Kajawa said.
On the comments Kunje made about the members being elected using the same commission and the forms they are faulting, Kajawa said such comments are her personal opinions and not professional as expected of the commissioners.
Kunje was the fifth commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission to appear before PAC, after appearances by commissioners Mary Nkosi, Elvey Ntafu, Moffat Banda and Yahaya M’madi.
PAC is conducting an inquiry to establish the competence of the current MEC commissioners to oversee the fresh polls ordered by the constitutional court following the nullification of the May 21, 2019 presidential election results on February 3, 2020.