The sense in MLS’ advice to Ansah, DPP, MCP, CSOs

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) this week issued a double edged statement rebuking political parties—MCP, UTM, DPP and CSOs for their ‘campaign like’ speeches which, among others, are fueling animosity among parties and their supporters. 

CSOs with support from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party have been holding countrywide demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign from her position as MEC chair for messing the May 21 2019 elections. Ansah is accused of fraudulently gifting DPP presidential candidate Peter Mutharika victory in the Presidential Election. The matter is in court.

On the other hand, MLS also asked Ansah to “deeply reflect on the value of remaining in office when her stay seems to be the cause for social disruption and political unrest”. But Ansah has unequivocally stated that she will not resign unless the court rules that there were irregularities in the elections.

On their part, CSOs led by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have also vowed never to relent until Ansah throws in the towel. Meanwhile, as the saying goes ‘when two elephants are fighting it is the grass that suffers’, and so it is Malawians in general who are trapped in the fight and are being held at ransom. The political uncertainty is suffocating businesses as people are unable to conduct their day-to-day businesses which put food on their table. In addition, some people are taking advantage of the demonstrations to loot and damage property. In addition vehicles of opposition parties continue to be torched.

To this mess, add the DPP’s decision to continue holding what the party dubs Victory rallies across the country. The party held such a rally in Blantyre last week and tomorrow it has planned a similar event in Lilongwe before rounding up in Mzuzu. Then you have the Forum for Concerned Women (FCW) which last week stood by Ansah’s decision to stay put as MEC chair. We all know who funded FCW. It is your tax. 

Now, DPP is the same party which since last week, has been hankering for contact and dialogue to end the political impasse in the country. DPP’s Southern Region vice-president Kondwani Nankhumwa is on record as saying he was ready to initiate negotiations with MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima. How would Nankhumwa harmonise the victory rallies—a strategy DPP is using to affirm DPP’s and Mutharika’s victory—with mediations? DPP’s victory rallies and CSOs’ demonstrations are two sides of the same coin. If DPP is sincere about mediations, it should first suspend or stop the victory rallies. MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka’s analogy about how you deal with a thief in your compound could not have been stated in a better way. MCP believes votes were stolen. And that DPP was the beneficiary of this theft with MEC as the accomplice. Should MCP negotiate with a thief? When you find a thief in your goat kraal stealing do you negotiate with him? Surely you don’t. DPP and Nankhumwa should, therefore, rethink their strategy. What they are peddling is just a road show with no sincerity in it. The so-called olive branch they claim to have extended to the opposition leaders is in bad faith because DPP is propagating the same thing that the CSOs, with support from MCP and UTM, are doing. DPP’s victory rallies and the opposition-backed demonstrations are one and the same, both in composition and effect. They are all tearing into the fabric of society.

Granted, MCP and UTM have taken the matter about the ‘stolen’ elections to court. And so in the final analysis, the courts are the ones that will either affirm or dismiss both parties’ claims, and hopefully with that outcome sanitise the political situation in the country. But this is a political problem and like all such problems, it requires a political solution. Such a political solution is not tenable until DPP bends over backwards and reaches out to the opposition in good faith.

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