Of presidential aspirants and Ras Chikomeni Chirwa

Ras Chikomeni David Chirwa knew from the word go that the MEC would not accept his nomination papers. But he still went ahead to present them on February 6 2019. He, therefore, had another agenda for doing so and not really that he harboured the ambition of appearing on the ballot paper. What is this agenda? Was it to popularise Rastafarianism? Or was it to expose the shortcomings on the political landscape in the country? Why did he opt to go on the big stage?

Let’s start with the K2 million nomination fee. MEC rejected Ras Chikomeni’s nomination on two accounts—his failure to pay the K2 million nomination fee and for not collecting 10 signatures from 19 of the 28 districts in the country. Why did he not pay the nomination fee? He did not tell MEC that he is too poor to raise that amount of money. Why did he fail to collect 10 signatures from some of the districts? Again he never told MEC he is too poor to move around the country collecting signatures.

Rather it was later that in interviews with the media that he said he did not pay the nomination fees and collect the signatures because he is too poor and because he does not have structures across the country to collect the signatures. He argued that in demanding the 10 signatures from each district MEC is using the Political Parties Act and that he wants enactment of an Independents’ Act to best serve their situation. 

He also told the media that the requirement for presidential aspirants to pay the K2million nomination fees does not sit well with human rights as enshrined in the supreme law which entitles them to freely participate in political life. Perhaps this is why he did not ask well wishers to help him raise the K2million. Perhaps that is the reason he did not consult his close relatives for assistance.

Logic dictates that when you are seeking a political office, you first confide the matter with your family members, close friends and then extend outwards. Regardless that the Ras is based in Mzuzu he has a place he calls home. For Ras Chikomeni, such a place is Hoho in Mzimba. His late father Lennox Overtone Chirwa went to school at Hoho LEA from standards one to eight where he was selected to Chaminade in 1968.

Ras could have touched base with his grassroots people from Group village Headmen Damaseke, Simon Chuchululu Nhlane, Zebron Phakati, Chikondawanga, Chiputula Nhlane, Nyalubanga, Solomon Nhlane, to mention but a few, that make up Hoho. They could easily have raised the K2million. He did not. There was a time subjects of the late Inkosi ya Makosi Mmbelwa 4 were asked to raise money to assist their chief when he was in a financial fix. Subjects and well wishers of the late Themba la ma Themba in Rumphi were asked to raise money to buy a vehicle for their chief when the Bakili Muluzi administration took away his official vehicle. 

Even during presentation of nomination papers, when MEC chair Jane Ansah told Ras Chikomeni that MEC could not accept his nomination papers because he had not paid the nomination fee, he did not ask the supporters to do so. They on their own accord said they would raise the money. Whether the money was raised during the 48 hours MEC gave and if he paid or collected the signatures is another issue.

Ras Chikomeni also told the meadia after his nomination was rejected that as an independent candidate, MEC was wrong to expect him—an independent candidate to collect 10 signatures from all the 28 districts because he does not have structures in districts. But also that he does not have resources to move around to collect the signatures.

But he later told the media the requirement for 10 signatures was derived from the Political Parties Act which did not apply to an independent presidential aspirant. If Ras Chikomeni was serious about his candidature he should have challenged this issue long before the nominations day. He did not. 

My conclusion is that Ras Chikomeni simply wanted to make a statement which was to shame the country’s political system. That it favours the moneyed and marginalises the poor. He reminded me of the famous statement by Patrice Lumumba that in Africa those who have ideas do not have power and those who have power have no ideas about how to govern their countries. Lumumba’s statement might have been an exaggeration but it is down to earth.

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