Following the May 2019 Malawi Elections, Malawi Electoral (MEC) Chair Justice Jane Ansah, amid 147 complaints, declared President Peter Mutharika the winner. The President hastily sworn in, the Chair then went Zodiak TV declaring the appropriateness of the work of the MEC.
In reaction to the electoral theft of the century, Malawians on both sides have demonstrated for and against the decision. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party led by and Dr. Saulos Chilima’s United Transformation Movement hurled the MEC and the Democratic Progressive Party to court, challenging the election result.
While the MEC and DPP have moved on as if there is nothing to see here and that Mutharika won the election fair and square, an empaneled Constitutional Court has been served a variety of information where lawyers for the two plaintiffs (MCP and UTM) have unearthed a coterie of in-plain-sight fraudulent activities.
For example, the court has been shown that there were 1,593,334 duplicate forms, 1,330,448 valid votes that were altered, 1,120,104 tally sheets that were presented, but had no signatures, 524,340 sheets also presented and accepted despite having Tipex therein, and 188,172
fake results sheets (unconventional).
But Sean Kampondeni’s recollection of Monday’s court hearings had MEC Chief Executive officer Alafandika in sweats and is very much entertaining as it was illuminating.
Kampondeni highlights how SC Msisha’s cross-examination succeeded in getting Alfandika to admit or acknowledge 7 key things:
1. MEC suspected before the elections that tippex might be used, and so they made it clear to presiding officers in advance that tippex should not be used.
Alfandika’s admission shows that presiding officers and constituency returning officers allowed the use of tipex; this was not do out of ignorance nor out of a belief that the use of tippex was allowed. They did it knowing that it was not allowed and having been told not to do it, making the use of tippex by them is not only irregular, but also intentional and malicious.
2. Before the elections, MEC sent Inspection Teams to polling centres to check that the centres were compliant to the standards MEC had set in advance, and yet the Inspection Teams were neither required to check for or confiscate any tippex found nor required to report on whether or not they found or confiscated tippex during the inspection.
Alfandika’s admission demonstrated that even though MEC anticipated in advance that some of its officers might be tempted to use tippex, told its officers not to use tippex, and had the means and manpower to prevent the use of tippex, MEC nonetheless did not use those means or manpower to actually prevent the use of tippex.
3. Alfandika said a fact-finding investigation into the use of tippex was done by MEC officials into every place or incident whence tipexed results sheets emerged.
This admission showed that the MEC CEO was in direct contradiction with MEC Chair Justice Jane Ansah, whose June 24, 2019 Zodiak interview cited that no investigation was done by MEC at any point as to where the tippex came from and how it made its way onto official MEC documents countrywide. Either the MEC CEO and the MEC Chair, is misinformed or lying. It also shows a lack of coordination between the two central offices and lack of compliance with the statutes that define their working relationship.
Alfandika attempted to explain the discrepancy; however, whether Alfandika or Ansah are telling the truth, MEC was only interested in investigating the complaints about the usage of tippex no sooner than four weeks after it already announced the results, when the law requires the MEC to settle all complaints during election week and before announcing the results.
4. MEC was informed by the auditing firm BDO that there were “many” results sheets which they rejected because they had tippex on them, or because they had alterations, or because they had missing signatures, but MEC wrote official letters to BDO instructing the auditors to accept them.
Alfandika testimony showed four things:
a) MEC failed to take proactive steps to prevent the use of tippex and other irregularities before the elections; after the elections MEC was given an opportunity by the auditors to keep tipexed, unsigned, and altered results sheets out of its tabulation process, but instead MEC Commissioners and the CEO played an active and decisive role in ensuring the inclusion of such, making them complicit in the irregularities committed by MEC personnel at polling and constituency tally centres.
b) A high standard of results sheets integrity was initially upheld by BDO, but the MEC CEO and Commissioners had a very low standard of results sheets integrity and used their offices to order BDO to lower its standards by allowing results sheets that it had already deemed unacceptable.
c) MEC at its worst was shown to have lied to the nation about the results’ compliance with international auditing standards, or at best, MEC hid from the nation the fact that many of the results sheets used to tabulate the final result had in fact failed to meet BDO’s international auditing standards.
d) When asked who wrote the letters to BDO to tell them to accept the substandard documents, Alfandika said it was he, which means that he is personally culpable for the acceptance of bad documents into an electoral process MEC assured Malawians would be watertight.
5. MEC officials allowed the use of tippex even in constituency tally centres that were not Teacher Development Centers.
This admission showed that Alfandika’s statement claiming that the tippex was used only in constituency tally centres that were located at TDCs, was factually incorrect. The importance of this is that if tippex had only been used at TDCs, that already have tippex in their stock, then the use of tippex can be regarded at circumstantial, but if the tippex was also used in locations where it is not ordinarily found, then it means its use was conspiratory and premeditated.
6. The MCP wrote the MEC on three successive time, to which there has been no official response.
The admission by MEC CEO shows that Justice Jane Ansah’s announcement to the nation that all madando had been addressed, was incorrect. Furthermore, Msiska showed that by announcing the results of the elections when there were still complaints unaddressed, MEC was violated the law which requires MEC to address all complaints before declaration of results.
7. The BDO audit report highlights several anomalies. First, the cover letter states that the report was sent to both MEC and UNDP, yet MEC claims that only UNDP got the report on the dates indicated, and MEC did not get the report from BDO. but from UNDP, and only got it in July, which would mean that the UN Resident Coordinator inexplicably held the audit report hostage for over a month before submitting it to MEC.
Secondly, (and more importantly), the table of contents for the audit report indicates that there were over 11 pages in the report, but in the document that followed, only the first 7 pages were paginated, while the rest of the pages inexplicably have no page numbers.
Furthermore, the bullet points on the ninth page of the audit report have missing numbers, going from point 188.8.131.52 to point 3.3 to 3.7, without any point 3.4, or 3.5, or 3.6.
Through Alfandika’s acknowledgement of these anomalies, highlights:
1. MEC had the audit report as early as UNDP had it, but then misplaced it through negligence or hid it through deceit, or MEC didn’t have the report on time because the UN Resident Coordinator held thus interfered with MEC’s timeliness in disclosing it.
2. Either the report was done unprofessionally, with page numbers missing or was tampered with maliciously by the replacement of paginated sheets from BDO with unpaginated sheets from elsewhere.
3. The report was done negligently with bullet numbering errors or the sheets with the full list of bullet points was replaced with sheets that had missing bullet points. Whichever the case, the report at best shows that the report was not done with the level of professionalism that meets international standards, and at worst shows that the sound report that came from BDO was tampered with in-country.