Where do you start from in a week as intense as this past one? As the campaign season heats up, all the major presidential candidates have thrown to us enough material in their quest to woo the voter that ticking their names is the right thing to do on May 21.
Some of the things that have been said have been utterly laughable, one being Lazarus Chakwera’s supposed game changing proposal to trim working hours for public servants, just one extreme example. Just what exactly was our good Reverend thinking to come up with such a whacky idea is anybody’s guess! But as the brutal social media verdict has shown, this gimmick is wanting.
Then Angoni Saulos Chilima up North, the allegation that, in 2014 the ruling DPP set on fire Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) offices in Lilongwe to burn votes at the time the High Court had ordered for a recount in Lilongwe South Constituency over alleged irregularities, was pick of the bunch, albeit for different reasons.
Firstly, this was a serious allegation made by a very serious office. Forget that we are in campaign season and in such times, politicians world over shoot from the hip than on the ordinary day, we still need to pause, take a breath and ask some tough questions.
We must do so because the 2014 elections had a huge question mark precisely because of voter irregularities that some people claim were a symptom of systematic rigging. The president then, Joyce Banda, even attempted to nullify the vote for precisely that reason. Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) cried wolf, too. High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda, pronouncing his decree at midnight, ordered that results be announced owing to the technicality that stipulated days allowed in the Constitution to undertake such an exercise.
So, yes, there is enough reason to worry about what really happened to the 2014 polls. There might have been criminal elements. We might have people in positions that they didn’t win. That exercise might have been a miscarriage of justice. There are lessons to learn from it.
Therefore, we need to get more answers from Chilima than just telling us that his former Cabinet colleague—then spy chief—Nicholas Dausi, was the man who led or organised the bandits that set on fire the votes.
Chilima as serving Vice-President, swore to defend the Constitution. That he remained quiet all this time is not only lamentable, but also raises serious questions over his credentials for office. As folks have been quick to observe, the Vice-President has been too vocal about corruption in government and while it’s understandable to say why he couldn’t speak out while all was rosy in DPP, questions will linger over character and sincerity of our good Veep.
When exactly did Angoni learn of this criminal action and what did he do about it? That we might need to be told before we cast our votes again.
And since this was said without being prompted, Angoni has no luxury to say that is all he has to say on this one.
But it’s not just Angoni who owes us some explanations over this. The DPP, too, is at receiving end of some serious allegations which raise some serious questions about the party’s commitment to rule of law and surely, Dausi’ casual rebuttal that this is all politics will and must not suffice.
Again, the usual trick that what Dausi might have known or done as spy chief should not be made public because he was working for an intelligence body, again should not wash. For years, our intelligence services have worked as tools for ruling parties and not served public security interests, so this must be watershed moment. They must come out clear on what they did on that night since we already know NIB officers were on the MEC premises on the night of the arson.
While on that, it’s bemusing that the opposition for the last five years, whose interest in this matter must be very clear, has not come out strongly to demand the truth of the matter over this.
And then, there is MEC. It must seek answers from these players and assure the public that it has satisfied itself whatever mischief happened in 2014 won’t happen again.
But above everything else, Angoni must address and address us now!