A Tippex-ed election

Justice must be done, but must also be seen to be done. Just how many people think this year’s elections were professionally managed; hence the results are a true reflection of the people?

Well, we know those who voted for President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are elated for once again trouncing their rivals. We know most of the international observers, including Commonwealth head of Mission Thabo Mbeki (of the silent diplomacy fame), way before the results were released, signed off the elections as free and fair.

But what is free and fair when most men on the streets are shaking their heads on how a great injustice appear to have been occasioned and the authorities seem to have done little to dissuade all and sundry that such fears are blown out of proportion.

Look, folks, how MEC was in a hurry to announce results which itself seem to doubt. Isn’t it strange that MEC dashed to announce results within 20 minutes of a court order lifting an injunction on announcing the results? Did MEC really satisfy itself that it had exhausted all the complaints? Why did MEC start streaming the results only to stop at some point, giving the regular updates which were expected only to come back with final results?

Then, there is Tippex, which to all and sundry, is the irrefutable evidence that this vote was tampered with. Folks, MEC says that it had not supplied any Tippex, that now (in)famous correction fluid to any of it’s presiding officers. Why on earth, did the same commission admit results which had these alterations? How did MEC make it possible for its officers to be able to travel with the result sheets alone without any security as it occasioned on several cases?

Should we really consider such a poll credible when all evidence suggests that these irregularities were not only isolated but widespread? And when MCP obtained an injunction in the court, what was MEC’s interest to rush to vacate the injunction when we know MEC is supposed to play the role of an impartial referee and, to this end, it has itself sent some results to all parties to verify if there were any concerns about the contents of what MEC received.

So why frustrate another remedy of choice of one of the parties? Who was fooling who here? Yes, we know President Mutharika might be a legitimate winner of the elections, but the questionable moves by MEC, the scar of Tippex all over the ballots, and the rush to announce the results without spending a time to study its contents suggest that MEC did not cover itself with glory.

It’s difficult to say in this scenario, as observed by the non-partisan Public Affairs Committee (PAC), to say the elections were free and fair. But whatever the case, with Mutharika now at the helm, it’s only fair to wish the President well for his second-term.

We also pray, here in the streets, that the President will seek to forge a new vision for the country and move away from the malaise of the past five years. We wish him good health and wisdom. We hope he moves fast to address the fire of tribalism that has taken a dangerous twist in this election.

We hope he finally launches a crusade against corruption which he neglected in his first-term. And we hope he will continue all the good things he did in the first-term that made many Malawians to vote him back in office.

For the opposition, particularly, major opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM, both who are contesting the poll results, there is just a lot to be proud of what they achieved in this election, but ultimately, in their defeat are enduring lessons as well. UTM has impressed with its national return, but the dismal performance in parliamentary polls must be sobering.

MCP might have made a lot of inroads in the Northern region, in particular, and just slightly improved in the South, but failure to win the elections again will be shuttering to its confidence. But for UTM and MCP, the two must now know that it was hubris, to seek the highest office as a fragmented opposition. For now.

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