Hon Folks, it’s time all contenders in the disputed May 21 presidential race, particularly the three top candidates—Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lazarus Chakwera of MCP and Saulos Chilima of UTM—hearkened the call to start preparing their supporters to accept win or loss from the election case in the Constitutional Court.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence as well as Public Affairs Committee (PAC), faith community, civic and traditional leaders should also join the bandwagon and tell people the hard truth that both sides to the case cannot emerge winners.
Either the court will uphold the outcome of the presidential election as declared by MEC or quash it should it be convinced that there’s merit in the case brought before it by the Opposition leaders.
Obviously the winning side will be in a celebratory mood while the losing side will have nothing but huge legal bills to settle. Unless the loser is ready to bite the lower lip and accept the loss with grace just as Kamuzu Banda did when he lost the Life Presidency, there’s a good reason to fear that our already divided nation has not seen the worst yet.
Somehow, there’s hope in our leaders. They’ve have shown us the propensity to do what’s right by seeking the legitimate solution when aggrieved by the way the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) conducted the elections—they sought redress in the court.
Elsewhere in the world, disputes over political power have led to civil strife and needless loss of precious life. We saw this in Kenya in 2007, Zimbabwe in 2008, Corte d’Ivoire in 2010 and the Gambia in 2016.
Unfortunately, court determinations rarely offer a win-win scenario. One party wins and the other party loses. Unless, either side is well prepared for the outcome, it will be an uphill battle to maintain the peace and forge ahead as one nation after the court ruling.
More so considering that political tension that started soon after the disputed outcome of the May 21, 2019 presidential election was announced, has lingered on for months and periodically degenerates into violence. There’s so much tension in the air and political tolerance is a currency in very short supply.
If truth be told, APM, Chakwera and Chilima are all to blame for failing to put the country above their personal interests. They all can’t resist taking matters already in a competent court to the kangaroo court of public opinion.
APM has gone as far as telling Al Jazeera the UN General Assembly that he won the elections and, without substantiation, claim that international observers declared the polls “free, fair and credible.” Yet EU is yet to release its report on polling results management and UNDP’s audit of the electoral process identified 15 hurdles that required addressing before results were announced.
The long and short of it all is, the observers—or at least some major ones—are yet to give us their last word on the polls.
As for MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima, they took only part of their election grievances to the conventional court where their claims of Tippex and other irregularities are being looked into.
At the same time, their umbrage at MEC chairperson Jane Ansah was tactically referred to a kangaroo court where she’s been convicted and slapped with the #JaneAnsahMustFall sentence without given a chance to be heard.
Ansah has become a sacrificial lamb for all that has failed on the watch of APM. Multitudes of those who wanted change easily assemble and hold demos in different parts of the country whenever Human Right Defenders Coalition beckons. These die-hard supporters of the Opposition leaders strongly believe only through MEC assisted rigging did APM emerge as the winner.
Yet, supporters APM and the DPP strongly believe they won fair and square and that those disputing the outcome of the presidential race are bad losers bent on wrestling power from them illegally.
Consequently, both sides are likely to treat the Constitutional Court currently hearing the election case much the same way as supporters of rival football teams look to match officials: winners will see nothing but professionalism in the ruling whereas losers will see nothing but bias and incompetence in the same ruling
Which is why, folks with a discerning mind have urged political leaders to start preparing their supporters to accept the verdict of the court with grace and preserve the peace whether their side wins or loses. This is hard to achieve where there’s respect to the rule of law but more so difficult our situation where scramble for power sometimes makes our leaders behave like warlords of a failed state.