Ras Chikomeni challenges Malawi’s electoral laws

As we promised, Professor Dr Joyce Befu, MG 66 and MEGA-1; Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD), the Most Paramount Native Authority Mukeme Mandela; Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, PSC (RTD), and I, the Mohashoi, are still here in the City of Zomba, the former capital of Nyasaland and Malawi, the home of the feared Chancellor College and Malawi’s Garden of Eden.

We are pleased to report that we are enjoying ourselves here.  We are doing what all tourists do. In the day, we venture out of our hotel near G-String. In the evening, we venture into the nearby red zone or the red district. We will not tell you what we do in the red zone.

From here we have travelled to Kasupe, as Machinga was called during pre-Malawi days, and visited its capital city, Liwonde. We have marvelled at the Chikala Pillars and concluded that we Malawians are blessed but do not know the value of our blessings.

Had we been steadfast in sticking to and implementing national plans and visions, Liwonde should have been a major city in Malawi. Dr Kamuzu Banda’s plans were that Liwonde would be a major inland port serving the southern part of Malawi and beyond. 

Goods from all over the world would be collected from Nacala port by train to Liwonde, then Blantyre and Lilongwe, and Lusaka in Zambia. Other goods would be ferried through the Shire river to Lake Malawi to serve the Centre and North. That’s why you see those decaying storage sheds there.  Why this grand dream has been thwarted by the successive post-Banda administrations is something we Malawians must seriously ask and get serious answers to before we vote in May this year.

We are also pleased to report that we have been to the Zomba plateau and down its gorges and rivulets. For our anonymous photographer embedded with our expedition from Washington, DC, USA, this was his very first visit. He has taken captivating ‘postcardable’ photos. Indeed, Zomba is the Garden of Eden, he has concluded.

Also pleased are we to report that last Wednesday we glued ourselves to the MBC TV to watch the potential presidential candidates presenting their nominations papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission.  Until a friend in Blantyre whatsapped us that Saulos Chilima and Michael Usi had already ‘tractored’ themselves to the venue and presented their nomination papers, we thought the presentation of nominations had been postponed.  MBC TV was showing us developments by the DPP in Karonga as the nomination paper event took place just less than 200 metres from its headquarters. MBC, we repeat here, will never change.

So, we tuned in to Times TV.  As expected, Ras Chikomeni had brought his mother as his potential running mate.

As expected, Ras Chikomeni had not paid the nomination fees as required, some say as imposed, by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). As expected, Ras Chikomeni had not gathered the required minimum 10 signatures per district.  As expected, the MEC refused to accept his nomination papers. As expected, Ras Chikomeni was politely advised to collect the necessary signatures and find the money and pay before yesterday, Friday to be allowed to run.

As expected, except for a few sober commentators, social media were awash with comments describing Ras Chikomeni as a ‘ganjaed’ time waster.

However, as expected, Ras Chikomeni told the media that he had achieved his mission. He had walked on the red carpet, been given front seat treatment, and commanded national attention for free to articulate Rasta challenges in Malawi.   He said he wanted to prove to Malawians and citizens of the world that Malawi’s democracy is elitist and favours the moneyed.  Malawi’s democracy is for sale, he alleged, and unconstitutional.  MEC, he argued, uses the Political Parties Act (PPA) to determine the fees and criteria for qualification of presidential hopefuls but that was against the constitution and an abuse of his human rights.

Charging candidates nomination fees, we must say, is a common practice in Africa. The fees vary, In Zimbabwe, a presidential pays K750 000, Malawi K2.0 million while in Ghana the fee is over K 9.3 million.

We will ask the teachers of law at Chancellor college when we get to Chirunga. Is the PPA really in inconsistent with the Malawi Constitution and, therefore, invalid; thus, rendering the MEC fees and conditions for accepting presidential candidate nomination papers illegal?

We will also ask, on behalf of the Ras Chikomenis of this country, what the 2014 High Court determination that MEC make has no legal authority to reject candidates for any reason, means in the wake of Ras Chikomeni’s testing of Malawi’s legal and electoral waters.

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