They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. — Hosea 8:4
The Malawi elections have come and gone, a winner determined and sworn in. many people would and have asserted that it’s over for another five years; others would however, argue that it is not.
Malawi’s sixth democratic elections had numerous buoyings, ups and downs, coated with court hearings, recounts, payment of or talk of payments of large sums of money.
Our social media, along with conventional independent television and radio stations were on over drive. And again, despite what was flying all over the information highway (plus or minus the fake news mill) the international observers left our land with the clean “Free and Fair” election slate in their hands.
Just as some think election story is over and others do not; there are some that were happy with MEC Chairperson Justice Ansah announcing incumbent Peter Mutharika as the winner in the 2019 tripartite elections. He scooped 35.56 percent, second in line was Malawi Congress Party President Lazarus Chakwera who earned 35 percent while United Transformation Movement President and former Vice President Saulos Chilima earned 20 percent of the vote.
In the Parliament, Mutharika’s DPP sailed away with 65 seats (a majority), MCP got 55 seats, there are 53 independent MPs, UDF has 10 MPs, former President Joyce Banda earned 5 seats, UTM has 4 seats while the AFORD has one seat in the august house.
For the local government, the DPP also swept the votes with 161 seats, as MCP took 160; there are 74 independents, 39 for UTM, 20 go to UDF, 4 for PP, and 2 for AFORD.
Analysis would underscore that the DPP made a resounding sweep, were it not for the record 147 incidences of what MEC Chair termed “madando.”
As she made the announcement of the presidential winner, there were cases in court, with one having been decided to halt the announcing; according to court clerks, the court messenger tallied in delivering the decision.
Chief among the “madandos” are various tally sheets that either contain alterations, Tippexed portions, and reports of officials carrying tally sheets home for the night.
All the accused for these election irregularities are by the DPP officials or supporters.
Winners usually celebrate; however, this year’s winning streak has a dose of intimidation where police are recorded to have teargassed Malawi congress Party headquarters, destroying the building and injuring some people attending a meeting.
The silence from State House and other government officials is alarming, it is also surprising.
Malawi is a democracy, police should not be harassing members of political parties.
DPP silence shows complacency and complicity in the vile, abhorrent, contemptible, and brutal police act.
Amid the tense times, there was a light moment when Capital Radio’s MacFarlane M. Mbewe in asking a question to the MEC Chair, sidetracked and opening admired her earrings.
The young journalist has earned himself a place in journalism school lesson plans, namely How not to address high-profiled women.
Below is the humorous exchange:
MEC Chairperson: Your question is personal let’s ask each other personal questions
Journalist: Ok madam chair
MEC Chairperson: How old are you
Journalist: Am 30
MEC Chairperson: How far have you gone with your education
Journalist: I am doing degree in journalism
MEC Chairperson: What did Thabo Mbeki say as he was leaving this country as an observer? Did you attend the briefing?
Journalist: I don’t know. I didn’t attend the briefing.
MEC Chairperson: And you are a journalist? Sit down sir.
To be fair, the young man has since learned the err of his ways and apologized to the MEC Chairperson.
The Constitution is clear: that election results must be announced within eight days of the polling day. This is obviously so that the electors are not kept in suspense, uncertainty, and untoward great anticipation.
But even within the eight-day time frame, the manner of tallying, reception, and delivery was shrouded with much drama. Compared to our ancient times in 1994, (when cellphones were not in much use), this year’s tallying, receiving and announcing, was dogged with irregularities and other dramatic twists and turns, and violence.
The irony of these happenings is that when the founder of the DPP, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika, left the party that took him to the State House, he was doing so on grounds of his displeasure at high corruption and under-dealings.
Of course, the 2019 election results were as shocking as they were questionable. Hence the madandos. What would Bingu wa Mutharika say?
It is well known that women turn out in large numbers to cast their votes; this year the numbers swelled even at registering.
Despite this statistic, there was no woman on any of the presidential or running mate tickets.
In the 193-seat House of Parliament, 44 women have secured seats, showing a nine-point rise from 2014 count.
In the council polls, a record number of women, 53 women will be among the 400-member local government structure.
Thus, the number of women that have ascended to decision making positions through the ballot, is less than 100.
We celebrate and salute the women that made it to the elected offices; we also congratulate the winners in the other portfolios.
Numbers tell the story of elections. More women registered to vote, more women turned out to vote, more women stood for elections.
In the presidential poll, all political parties used winning formulas that included choosing the regionally appropriate running mate, campaigning in whistle stops through Malawi.
But the winner had a little lot of help from a friend in a bottle and some alternative incentives. Sadly, court cases still surface as contestants perceive numerous acts as manipulation of election results that usually favors the incumbents.
Sadly, while one party (that won the vote) is celebrating, the celebrations are marred by politicking that have not changed in Malawi’s 25-year old democracy.
Elections are a national event, the celebrations, swearing in ceremonies, must all be handled as national events, not political party events.
Some analysts say that this would require the halting of the adrenaline rush to be sworn in when court cases loom over the election results.