Nothing wrong with peaceful demos

It is obvious that the results of the May 21 2019 elections have brought a lot of pain to Malawians.

The pain is comparable to what they would have felt had the referendum vote in 1993 brought back the one-party rule. In fact, the unprecedented suffering people have gone through in the past five years has been a catalyst to go and vote for change. People find the promise by President Peter Mutharika that things will change for the better in the coming five years questionable. This is because he and his government totally failed in the first-term.

Honestly speaking, there had been no signs for change. During campaigns, rumours went round about abuse of huge sums of tax payers’ money by those in power. Malawians were being provoked to use their ballot to get rid of the DPP-led government. But, unfortunately, the change failed because of rigging which was alleged to have taken place at Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

Joseph Stalin once said: “The people who cast the vote decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”

This is what has happened to Malawians. People wasted their time to stand on the queue to vote, without knowing that MEC had already decided who the winner would be. Some of the tally sheets were tippexed in order to suit their desire. Social media was awash with such tippexed sheets which looked like they had just been salvaged from a rubbish pit. Dirty and over tippexed work and not fit for such an important task as running an election to spell the future of Malawians.

As if tippexing documents were not bad enough, rumours went round that presidential ballot papers for the chosen winner were being marked in people’s homes and MEC offices after the polls had long closed. If all this is true, how can such an election be termed fair and credible? MEC might refute such malpractices, but what they must know is that the importance of this election to the future of the people of Malawi cannot be over-emphasised.

People can remember how CSOs, including human rights defenders, have struggled with government, but to no avail. Therefore, people thought that the ballot would bring the much needed change. That, too, has failed due to rigging.

With so much pain the voters have taken to the streets to have peaceful demonstrations. Dr Martin Luther King (Jnr) of USA once said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Indeed, Malawians are demanding their freedom to live a better life of which their votes would be property counted. This demand is what has so far triggered peaceful demonstrations which President Mutharika has condemned. The President should know better that demonstrations are a constitutional right. Some people, too, condemned demonstrators when they went as far as Capital Hill and chased people out of their offices. That, too, can be taken as a warning sign to the President and his government. In fact, demonstrations are a revenge of the poor, which can easily escalate to a revolution.

Some political commentator once said ‘if there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government’. It is naïve to think that since Malawians are peaceful, they can still remain silent after their votes are stolen. It is painful to think that since there is no change they will still live with corruption, joblessness, abuse of tax payers’ money, etc.

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