Many election stakeholders and commentators had foreseen this year’s general election to be highly contested and that has become true. It’s interesting and somehow sad that some things which could not be predicted have emerged after people have casted their votes. The after-month of vote casting, the following things have been clearly manifested: politics of tribalism, prophetic confusion and constitutional crisis.
Politics of Tribalism
When candidates were campaigning, tribalism was not that an issue except in the southern region where MCP faced a cold shoulder with very low turn up of cloud during their rallies. In the central and northern region, one could not tell as to which party was dominant. After the vote was cast, we now know that northerners were interested in JB, central was interested in Chakwera and Southerners were much interested in Peter.
The voting has been regionalistic and tribal to some extent. Though JB does not come from the north, the husband is affiliated to that region which gave the wife an upper hand in that region. However, the fact that MCP got many votes on the centre does not really mean that every Chewa voted for MCP because if it was so, MCP would have won with landslide. The fact that DPP got many votes in the southern region does not mean that only Lomwes voted for DPP because if it was so, DPP would not be claiming victory by now considering their numbers. The same applies to UDF/Yao and PP/tumbuka or Tonga respectively.
In Malawi the Chewas get a share of over 50% of the total population, then yaos, then tumbukas or lomwes etc. Then, why am I saying politics of tribalism in Malawi? After unofficial results were announced by ZBS, let alone MEC’s partial official results of 30% tipped Peter to be the winner, it was a disappointment on the social media especially face-book. While jubilation of hope is not prohibited, a wrong signal was indicated there.
I read many posts which said, “Viva Mulhako” “Mulhako wa a Lomwe waku state house” “Mlakho wa a Lomwe woyeeee!!” I was just wondering, “Is DPP equals Mulhako wa a Lomwe?” If indeed this means so to Lomwes, what about the non-Lomwes who voted for DPP, were they just been used to promote Mlhako heritage other than Malawi? One lady lamented in her comment to this tribalism promoting post saying, “it’s not fair guys, what about us who are not lomwes but voted for DPP, were we just been used to promote your tribe?” Tribalistic guys shamelessly lambasted her saying, “zako zimenezo, ngati zikukuwawa usova.”
They continued to attack her saying, “don’t you know that in Malawi every party is affiliated to a particular tribe?” “If MCP won, you also would be saying, Gawa Undi woyeeee!” I felt so bad that instead of promoting Malawi, other empty heads are busy promoting a tribe. People are forgetting that Malawi is greater than a tribe, and DPP should be greater than a tribe also and serve the interest of all Malawians if it gets into power. If we vote on tribal lines, one tribe will rule Malawi forever and that tribe may be the Chewa. So, what about us who belong to smaller tribes, don’t we deserve to rule Malawi too?
I am afraid that what Bingu started, not development but tribalism will continue from where it stopped. During Bingu, lomwes had a lion’s share of government positions and left the rest to non-lomwes. This is likely to repeat itself since Lomwes were voting for DPP with their tribe in mind while others just voted. Believe me or not, non-Lomwes are yet to regret again for putting DPP in power because from the comments on Facebook, DPP equals lomwes and if you are not a lomwe, you will not enjoy a national cake.
During this time we have witnessed prophetic confusion. Some so called men of God prophesying not what God says but to please a particular candidate and later the candidate realises was cheated by a prophecy. A Sunday before elections, Bushiri gave a prophecy saying that, he saw an orange coloured party winning the election. He claimed that a woman is yet again to rule Malawi and there will be prosperity and that electionNwas going to be peaceful.
Though, election results have not been announced, it is unlikely that Joyce Banda who was the only female frontrunner can win these elections. So, what does that say about Bushiri’s prophecy? This was a man who also cheated Malawians after Bingu died by saying that economy was to stabilise by July 2012. He later changed and said it was to stabilise in six months. All these prophecies did not come true; instead, the country suffered serious economic challenges. So, what kind of a person is Prophet Bushiri? Your guess is as good as mine.
Prophet Liyabunya was almost accurate in his prophecies but he later messed up. He at first prophesied that Peter Mutharika was going to win the election but with the condition that Peter visits him to his house which Peter ignored. Later, prophet Liyabunya said that since Peter did not fulfil the condition, he was going to lose and we were going to continue with PP government. If Peter is declared a winner, will we say that Liyabunya’s prophecy has come true? No, because he later gave another prophecy nullifying the earlier one.
I am just lounging when I hear some DPP zealots that Liyabunya’s prophecy has come true when he later nullified it. It is also laughable to say that the prophecy has been fulfilled when the results have not been announced. One other prophet of Blantyre also prophesied that a born again Christian was going to rule Malawi. This prophecy was released before Chakwera joined politics and when he joined politics, it was like the prophecy fulfilled. However, we are yet to see if this prophecy will come true or Chakwera will be robbed of his victory.
One other prophecy was that of T. B. Joshua that the party with a blue colour was going to win. I didn’t listen to this prophecy myself; I heard it as second person. However, I was just wondering whether this party is DPP or that of John Chinsi since they both use blue colours though that of Chinsi has lost already and was unlikely to win. I am waiting to see if the winning party will be DPP or MCP as of prophecies above.
This tripartite election has revealed that our constitution has a lot of loopholes to consider revising. This is in line with what I wrote earlier last year. When it was noted that the elections have been marred with grave irregularities, president Banda citing section 88(2), ordered for discontinuity of vote counting and directed for re-run within 90 days. MESN, MLS, Law experts and some political parties said that she doesn’t have those powers and said that it’s only MEC which can decide what to do next in such situations.
MEC got an injunction against the president’s directives. Later own MEC admitted of these irregularities and decided to re-count the votes, vindicating the president’s observation which they had rejected. After MEC decided to recount, same people and organisations said, MEC has no powers to decide on re-counting but the court has. So, which is which? Who has the powers to put things in order in a situation like this? According to the constitution, MEC is independent and has to do its job without any interference.
When MEC saw that things were not right, with its mandate of running the elections and making sure that elections are free and fair, decided to re-count the votes and we are saying it doesn’t have the mandate, which is responsible to foresee free and fair elections then? The courts are also not giving proper direction. This is why section 65 remains unapplied because when the speaker excises his powers, the court comes in and nullifies the speaker’s decision. We are yet heading to a repeat of history, “section 65 first, No, budget first.” For sure whichever party wins must consider constitutional revision so that we don’t face this chaos again.
The whole thing is complicated now. If other parties are claiming that DPP rigged election and needed the issue to be sorted, which direction do we take after denying re-run or total re-count? Partial re-counting is not enough to solve the problem at hand. If 19 centres were found with ghost voters from a total of 30% votes counted, how sure are we that the remaining 70% is clean? Before agreeing with partial re-count, DPP denied re-counting.
If DPP is clean on these allegations, why is it denying then? This may be equated to a situation where a thief denies to be searched for fear of being discovered. The other thing is; DPP is claiming victory from just 30% official results released, what makes it feel that the 70% remaining may not turn things around.
Since 70% is larger than 30%, it is very much possible for the results to change. From the 30%, MCP is placed on third position when in the final it is believed that it is second or first, what makes DPP think that they may not be second or third in the final results? If this happens, will DPP not think they have been cheated? Remember 2004 when Gwanda thought had won only to be found on third position in the final results. So, it’s better to wait for final results before claiming victory because if things come out different while you thought you won, you bring unnecessary violence in the country.
If we are to have re-run, will coalitions be allowed? If they will be allowed, will this not bring confusion if the party which believed it had won comes out to be a looser? Okay, let’s put the issue of coalitions aside. Let’s assume, parties are to run the way they did and still the party which believed it had won comes out to be a looser, will they accept the results? The answer is no, so still confusion.
Well, let’s come to re-count. If after re-counting, you find the number of voters exceeded the registered voters, whose votes will MEC deduct? What about in areas where zeroes were removed to reduce one’s number of votes, how will that be sorted out? Whose number of votes will be added? The other question is; how safe are the ballot papers after voting to be sure that re-count will bring justice? Now, the question is, how do we solve these dilemmas? This is the issue of a constitution.
We need to revise the constitution to say that, the winner should have 50% plus one vote of the total votes cast and having at least half of the number of the total members of parliament. This allows the government to run well. Other countries have done it after passing through what we are passing through now and we can also do it. Now, how do we solve the situation at hand before the constitution is revised?
I suggest that political parties agree on re-run of the election especially on the presidential ticket with tight security and monitoring and accept the results. Re-count would bring more confusion since after voting, the ballot papers do not receive security as before voting. From experience, no petition against the winner has ever succeeded in Malawi once the president is sworn in, so to say that after the winner has been sworn in others can still go to court would mean fighting a losing battle.
There is no way the president can be removed from power after taking oath of office in Malawi. That would be interpreted as treason. After all, there is no provision in our constitution to wait for petitions before the winning presidential candidate is sworn in. This is why we should revise our constitution to give that provision also. The law should also be clear on who is responsible to nullify counting, results, order re-run when faced with election irregularities.
In conclusion, I have observed that MESN, MLS, Madonna, media etc. have brought more confusions than solutions to our dilemmas through their sided comments. Let people, societies, organisations and media comment or report neutrality without partiality to avoid more confusions. With the situation at hand parties other than DPP feel rejected through these comments.