On July 12, the leadership of the Malawi Law Society (MLS) wrote its first epistle to all those involved in the Malawi debacle. The letter was addressed to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chair Jane Ansah, President Peter Mutharika, MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera, UTM president Saulos Chilima, Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara, among others.
Among the highlights, MLS went to the postmaster to deliver a message, on the going-ons after the May 21 polls. Paramount among the points raised in that correspondence was that Mutharika, Chakwera and Chilima must come down to earth and let their supporters the elections case running in the Constitutional Court may not go in their favour.
You may say the message was obvious but that is the outright truth. Today, some three months down the line, it would appear both sides have not let the message sink: That matters of the law are detached from emotions.
And, yes, MLS advised Jane Ansah to let go, as demanded by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), who, by the way, were also addressed in the MLS note. That has been the fix, which has seen several people dead, property damaged, others shot and petrol-bombed, women molested and raped.
Do not pit MLS as a prophet of doom, for whatever the learned friends foresaw is coming to pass, not in another messianic age but now.
While we are wondering when the Malawi Police Service (MPS) will conclude its investigations on what really happened at Nsundwe that officers and men (is that confined to the barracks?) should pounce on powerless women and citizens, MLS is back with its second epistle.
Before we get to understand why, all of a sudden, Malawi turns out to be a violent and intolerant nation, the society chose, again, to jot a line or two. The society feels, indeed, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and MPS have to investigate the Nsundwe incident with the urgency it deserves.
For that matter, MLS touches on the very salient point that has brought all this hullabaloo. Our nation is heavily disintegrated at the moment. Regionalism and tribalism seem to carry the day. Rightly so. Ignore that fact is tantamount to ignoring the fact that we are currently in a mess, which, if not tamed, will lead to worse.
The voting pattern during the tripartite polls is enough evidence that the kokera kwako spirit reigns supreme in our hearts and minds. That must not be tolerated.
The MLS says the fire of regionalism could have been quenched if the Electoral Bills were passed, where, among other things, could have the president garner 50+1 percent of the votes at the polls. That is a basic truth because the current impasse could have been avoided if that section was passed.
But then, the Electoral Reforms Bills failed to pass because of a number of things. The Cabinet’s defilement of the draft recommended by the Law Commission in March 2017 on the reforms got us this far. Why did the then Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu include a clause that the 50+1 notion would also apply to parliamentarians? For that matter, why did the opposition vote for or against that motion?
My understanding is that when you don’t understand a piece of legislature, the best remedy is to abstain. By voting for or against a law they didn’t understand, the MPs put us in this mess.
On the other hand, some MPs are still stuck in an age where laws were meant to please individuals. For them, their selfish means justify the ends of justifying their eternal master, for a while.
MLS wrote the second epistle, having noted the concerned parties never responded to the first one. Will they respond, let alone act on this one? Doubtful.