Once upon a time in a small democratic country, something very strange happened. There was an election, and when the votes were counted, it turned out that the number of valid votes barely amounted to 25 percent of all those cast. The party of the right won 13 percent, the party of the Center 9 percent, and the party of the left 2.5 percent or so. There were a few spoiled ballots, but all the others, around three-quarters of all those cast, had simply been left blank. The political establishment was deeply upset. Why had citizens voted “blank”? What did they want? How had the “blankers” planned this and managed to organize themselves?
The government’s frantic attempts to get its hands on the ringleaders of the blank-vote conspiracy ended in frustration and despair. It turned out that behind the blank votes were neither ideologists nor organizers. Nor was it a conspiracy, having been neither planned nor prepared. It was not even discussed by anyone on Facebook, WhatsApp or tweeter. The only rational explanation was that most of the people at one and the same time (and each separately from all the others) had arrived at the idea of dropping a blank ballot into the ballot box. As a result, there was no one for the government to negotiate with, no one to arrest, and no one to target with efforts at bribery, blackmail or co-optation. After a week of anxiety, the authorities reran the election. But this time, 83 percent of the ballots were left blank.
This is an abridged version of a tale that first appeared in the Portuguese author José Saramago’s 2004 novel Seeing.
It is as hard to understand the blank vote phenomenon discussed above as it is to understand what the DPP protests marches in the country this past week were really supposed to achieve. It seems to me that the protests, organized by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) this past week in unheard case of a Government protesting itself, were nothing but a desperate attempt to threaten and intimidate the judiciary.
The march was worthless, with hundreds of DPP supporters joining Henry Mussa, Brown Mpinganjira, Francis Mphepo and many leading DPP Figures apparently to openly state their disappointment with President Peter Mutharika’s Judiciary, and with the ruling of the constitutional court on the elections case some weeks ago. DPP supporters used the march to threaten the judges and perhaps the prosecutors for exposing the bribery scheme that seems to have had connections to their party, forgetting that the Judiciary is but just one arm of the Malawi government at whose head sits President Peter Mutharika himself. It is said that they demanded that the judges should be investigated for bribery and corruption, claiming that they were bribed by businessmen sympathetic of the MCP or the UTM parties.
It is remarkable that a party that believes that it is party of the ruling establishment can begin to feel that the most effective way to get its message of dissatisfaction across the nation is through protests, not policies or other such administrative means.
To my mind, this only reveals a calamitous situation in our governance, one that should drive voters to begin seriously considering making blank votes in the next election in demonstration of our disillusionment with the rotten governance framework in this country. To be sure, it is ultimately this rotten governance framework that is responsible for creating this kind of flabbergasting governance phenomenon, namely a government that is so confused about its own powers and responsibilities that it decides to protest itself.
It is perhaps easy to forgive the DPP protesters. Perhaps their thinking is that the DPP as a party has the same right as everyone else to protest and march and present a petition to government since the DPP is the DPP and government is government. The most blatant demonstration of the flaw in this thinking, though is the presence at the march of Mr Francis Mphepo. You see, dear Uncommon Sensors, Mphepo is the president’s chief advisor on political affairs. He is the guy to whom the president goes for advice on matters of this very nature. He advises the president on politics. This role of presidential advisor on political affairs is not a party position. It is a government position. Mphepo is a civil servant whose salary is paid from our taxes. You now probably understand why I have been having a headache trying to understand what he was doing at those protests instead of simply advising the president on the issue, and why the DPP as party seems to be confused indeed as to what is a party issue and what is a government issue.
Now when you have people like Mphepo advising you……
Anyway, speaking about confusion, the DPP claims in its petition to itself that the constitutional court’s ruling was fraudulent because the judges that heard the elections case were compromised by bribes. There is no proof of this of course. As a matter of fact, the only bribery attempts that came to light concerning this case were those of people connected to the DPP being rebuffed in their attempts.
Given the fact that the elections were held by the court to have been essentially fraudulent, this must be the DPP logic in effect then: A fraudulent election, declared as such by the court, is acceptable but a fraudulent ruling, only suspected to be such by some DPP guessers, is not. We, the DPP demand that the judges must be investigated. They must have received a bribe from someone else after rejecting ours!
What really bothers me in all this is that this kind of confused and confusing thinking will ultimately result in the younger generations losing their faith in our governance structures and in our democracy altogether and end up refusing to vote at all. I mean if democracy means the kind of thinking that the DPP has been parading around the country, who will blame me for casting a blank vote in the next election?
The truth of the matter though, is that it is not the DPP that is confused but its leader. This came across so very clearly in the address to the nation that he made the other day when he called the ruling of the constitutional court an affront to the establishment of democracy in Malawi.
It makes sense that since that unbelievable ejaculation, President Mutharika has withdrawn himself from governing and decided simply to absorb himself with figuring what reward and compensation to give to his Chief bootlicker, Everton Chimulirenji. He obviously has absolutely no idea what to do, as ever. It also makes sense that following his abdication of responsibility, some even lesser brains within the DPP are trying to lead the party for him and coming up with these ideas that are simply demonstrating how devoid of ideas and divided against itself the DPP as party is.
How else can you explain these pathetic shenanigans?