Who really, is killing our democracy?

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah should resign. We are not debating whether or not she should go. It is a matter of when. First, because she promised to do just that if the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court (Con-Court), found her on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately for her, it looks like she is not even good at prophesying; the court has just done that. But the more stinging verdict was that Ansah’s MEC demonstrated total incompetence in the manner it conducted the elections.

With due respect, MEC exists for Malawians. Its mandate to organise the elections is premised on the understanding that it will deliver credible, violence free and fair polls. But for the undue return on the same, Malawians have now withdrawn that mandate from the commissioners. They are a liability.

This is what the petitioners, UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera, took to court. The Con-Court has just affirmed the petitioners’ stand that the elections were a sham.

Secondly, Ansah and her fellow commissioners have to go because they have lost the moral high ground to continue serving as MEC officials. Nobody except those who benefitted from the fraudulent elections would still have trust in this MEC. And now all that Malawians are asking for is that the commissioners should leave honourably and quickly. They should do so quickly to pave way for new commissioners to conduct fresh presidential elections by June 2 2020. 

MEC’s commissioners should go because their incompetence has and will cost the taxpayer billions of kwacha. This is from the nullified elections and for the fresh ones to be held in 145 days. MEC will pay the legal costs for the two petitioners, the organisation’s own legal team and will have to find money again to hold the fresh presidential elections. The bill will run in billions of kwacha. It is shameful that this is taxpayers’ money flashed down the sewer line. And this is money that could have been used to buy drugs or build classrooms, pay teachers or school fees for needy students in universities or indeed fund other government activities. The other cost the nation has paid is the loss of business and income during the eight months the country was plunged into a political impasse when Malawians were agitating for Ansah’s removal or resignation for messing up the elections. 

And now even with the judgement, it looks like we are far from exorcising the demons.  With due respect to the democratic right that President Peter Mutharika—the chief beneficiary of MEC’s incompetence—he has indicated that he will challenge the Con-Court ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal. In his own words, APM said the ruling is “a subversion of justice, an attack on our democratic systems and an attempt to undermine the will of the people”.

But if truth be told, it is APM’s appeal against the ruling that is an attempt to undermine the will of the people. The will of the people is what the Con-Court delivered on February 3, 2020. Only beneficiaries of MEC’s incompetence and misconduct can dispute this. The country was apprehensive before the court delivered its ruling as it was thought that whichever way the ruling would go, the losers would plunge the country into violence. But the court tackled all issues brought on the table so skilfully, comprehensively and fairly that not even DPP with an entrenched culture of violence found a reason to engage in violence.

The peace and calm the nation has enjoyed after the ruling against expectation that there will be violence is because the judgement represents the will of the majority of people. It therefore beggars belief that someone can be so blind to the glairing truth as to say the judgement “inaugurates the death of Malawi’s democracy”. 

Many honest Malawians will agree that the opposite is true. Since 1994 when Malawi adopted a multiparty system of government, it is during APM’s administration—from 2014 to date—that the country has witnessed a wholesale reversal of the fruits of democracy. Instead what has flourished during this period is nepotism, regionalism, cronyism tribalism, corruption, poverty, insecurity, lack of rule of law, crippling of governance institutions, clueless leadership, to mention just a few. And this is why the leadership had no idea about how to get the country out of the political impasse it was plunged in since the May 21 2019 elections. No one was in control.

And it is during APM’s administration that the public broadcaster, MBC, has completely swung south, throwing all caution to the wind and become brazenly biased. Only the other day it referred to the Human Rights Defenders Coalition as gulu la chifwamba (a rebel group). Come on, those at MBC should know that there is always tomorrow. Unfortunately it is the taxpayer who will foot the bill when HRDC gets its cheque as compensation for damages.

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