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Thousands of women join ‘IamJaneAnsah’ solidarity march in Blantyre

Written by  MBC Online

Thousands of dancing and placards-carrying women joined the ‘IamJaneAnsah’ solidarity march on Wednesday in Blantyre, to show their support for Justice Jane Ansah, Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) who has come under a barrage of insults and sexist statements from the opposition and rights activists demanding her resignation as MEC Chairperson.

Some of the women marchers in action Some of the women marchers in action MBC Online


Her critics accuse her of mismanaging the election results and the constitutional court will on July 29 start hearing the case in which the opposition MCP and UTM are seeking nullficiation of the May 21 vote after Ansah declared President Professor arthur Peter Mutharika winner of the presidential poll.


Under heavy security, the march, which went peacefully but led to traffic congestion in the district centre for several hours, was organised by the newly formed Forum for Concerned Women, which is being chaired by Seodi White, lawyer and currently chief director of Public Sector Reforms.


At several points along the way from Old Town hall to civic centre offices, White and other leaders made pronouncements to the chorus of the marchers that "Jane Ansah won't resign."


Placards read from "Jane Ansah a woman of integrity" to "No Mob justice." The marchers danced to loud local music hits played by a disc jockey.


Demos under # Jane Ansah Must Fall have been staged by the opposition and rights activists in the past weeks, leading to looting, beatings of innocent people and destruction of private and public property worth millions of kwachas.


Mary Navicha, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, said on Monday when the peaceful march was announced that the demo was organised “because Jane Ansah is a peaceful woman.”


Navicha said Ansah, a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal and Senior Counsel, had suffered “persecution, intimidation and humiliation” caused by rights groups and the opposition “against a very prominent, professional, respectable and a God-fearing woman.”


Ansah denies any wrong-doing and insists she can only resign if the constitutional court hearing the opposition petition for a re-run of the presidential race only, gives a verdict of the case which has gripped the nation.


The Minister narrated that it was at the point when Ansah announced the winner of the presidential election as Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, that “all of a sudden Jane Ansah became a victim of extreme intimidation, harassment, insults never seen before in the history of this country.”


She said the intimidation started by “those leaders who did not accept the results simply because they wanted to win.”


The Minister said during demos against Ansah, “they carried insulting placards and uttered generalized sexist statements against Ansah.”


She said sexist and degrading statements to “one Jane Ansah is degrading to all women of Malawi.”


On the call for her resignation, Navicha said those calling for her head were “doing so because she is a woman,” adding that the MEC Chairperson “did not wake up and decided to announce results from her head.”


“Dr Ansah did not make up figures from her head. She announced results that were agreed upon and signed by all political party monitors and stakeholders including some of those calling for her resignation today.”


The Minister said results of the May 21 elections “were certified as free, fair and credible by all international observers.”


“Unfortunately, the past month has been a nightmare for Ansah because she has been harassed by leaders and men who disrespect women. Unfortunately, there are some women who have been brain washed by these men and have joined in the harassment of a fellow woman.”


She said as Malawian women, “we cannot continue to watch in silence. An attack on Jane Ansah is an attack on all of us women. As women, we will rise up and march in solidarity with Ansah to end this calculated violence against a fellow woman.”


Navicha said: “This is patriarchy at its worst. This is gender based violence of the extreme. Jane Ansah is being persecuted for doing her work professionally. Her work on behalf of the people of Malawi.”


"Ansah is a legitimate citizen of Malawi who did her work professionally and that calling for her resignation is a violation of her right as a citizen and woman of Malawi. This harassment towards Ansah and all Malawian women must stop forthwith. Jane Ansah is a role model to girl child.”


White said the issue at hand was “a gender issue and violence against women.”


“A woman is a woman and the trauma of being a woman doesn’t see colour. An insult to one woman is an insult to all of us,” White said.


She said she can’t believe Ansah has “suffered this much and yet she still stands strong.”


But she insisted that the battle will continue to defend women. “Jane Ansah must not fall. Enough is enough. This violence must come to an end.”

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