Do we still need foreign election observers?

Throughout history certain events have defined and divided époques. The birth, mission and death of Jesus the Christ divided time into before Christ (BC) and after Christ (AD).  The Bolshevik revolution in 1917 marked the serious beginning of soviet communism and the overthrow of dictators and, its collapse in 1989 symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall marked another, divided time into communist and post-communist eras.   The quasi-religious mercantile adventurism of Europeans led to the colonisation of much of the world and in the 1960s the colonisation started falling apart and today we talk about the precolonial, colonial and post-colonial times.

In Malawi, we have had several defining moments in our history. Pre-and-post colonial; pre-and-post Chilembwe uprising of 1915; pre-and-post March 3 1959 (Martyrs day); pre-and-post cabinet crisis of 1964; pre-and-post one party era ushered in through the referendum of June 14 1993; and we echo Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima, in dubbing February 3 2020 as another milestone, another époque marking day, when the five judges of the high court ruled that the 2019 elections were shambolic, shameful, fraudulent and, essentially,  criminal because that’s what ballot stuffing amounts to.

Apart from the MEC a few other stakeholders have behaved ‘criminally’.  Since 1994, the so-called election observers have sat in hotels, eaten sausages, drunk beer and other haraam drinks, and issued prewritten reports. All elections since 1994 have been certified as either free and fair or substantially free and fair and therefore legitimate.  Until this year we have been ruled by people who may have won elections through dubious means. How, for instance does a candidate garner more votes than the population of the whole locality?

Unfortunately, the complaints about fraud and rigging were merely glossed over. Those who celebrated their ‘win’ knew they had participated in a hellish charade and fraud.  

You can run but you cannot hide forever, so they say.  As the writer of Old Testament Book, Ecclesiastes, puts it, there is time for everything. There is time to steal and enjoy the proceeds of your gallantry but there is also time to be caught and pay back hugely.   As Felix Mnthali writes in celebration of his imminent release from his illegal detention at Mikuyu Prison, Zomba,  there is nothing sweeter than an event whose time has come.

3rd February 2020 was date whose time had come. Had MEC known, they would not have hired BDO to audit the flow of the election results. Would they?  Please Allah, the most merciful, abundantly bless and protect those BDO Jordanians. Their audit report saved our democracy from hijackers. May God Almighty or JahRastari bless the creators of WhatsApp and multimedia mobile phones, for without them the tippexing of result forms would not have been shared almost immediately? You can run, compatriot, but you cannot always hide.

We, the citizens, studiously observed our elections; which renders so-called election observers, from Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and America, obsolete.  They endorsed the 2019 election and called it free and fair without even observing the election. Our state president used these fake observation to claim he had won the election. If the so-called observers had gone out and witnessed the results coming in and being counted, their reports would have revealed what the unpaid but simply patriotic citizens sent to our mobile phones. Do we still need the so-called foreign election observers?

The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) claims to have deployed over a thousand observers. Interestingly, MESN, too, did not see the tippexed results sheets.  You see, we were born at night but it was not last night. Thus, MESN should not be accredited to observe any more elections in Malawi because in our view the organisation and its proxies, were either incompetent or complicit in the electoral malpractice that has cost us so much money already as taxpayers.

The teachers who were privileged to participate in a sacred national duty but deliberately tippexed, altered or adulterated the election results, should not be rehired for the exercise.  University students can do a much better and honest job. We beg to move.

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