On Malawi elections

Disorganised.

Not free.

Not fair..

Far from credible.

The above words and phrases describe the farce that Malawians are calling an election. How could Malawi get it so wrong? Accusations and counter accusations of rigging have flown from one side to the other. The electronic system of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has been hacked into, forcing the Commission to move from electronic counting to manual.

The president of the country ( who is one of the candidates in the election) mounted an unsuccessful court bid to have the whole process annulled before counting is even complete. She is alleging that the election has been rigged. The current president not having faith in the electoral system that his own government put into place? What about the ordinary Joe in the street? The whole process has been compromised. The whole affair is in shambles. It’s a mess.

One cannot say we didn’t see it coming. From day one of the elections the signs were there to see. Pictures of open air voting stations started circulating on twitter. Open air voting? In this day and age? How much is a tent? You answer those questions.

More and more pictures poured in on twitter as voting progressed. These were not pictures from Western media houses. We all know how biased those are! We even get angry and defensive when they truthfully point out our shortcomings. One of the pictures posted by citizens on the ground showed a swell of people who appeared to be on a market. Apparently this was a voting ‘queue’. I know what a queue looks like. What was in the picture was not a queue. It was chaos. Another picture of a polling station on fire followed. People were beginning to get fed up.

In all this chaos the AU remained tight-lipped. Only one observer, a former president of Namibia, had the guts to declare the elections free and fair. He even argued that no election is perfect. We all know that. But we tend to get worried when our leaders mouth that statement with confidence. It’s like they wish all elections are imperfect. That cannot be right. What was shocking on this statement again was the fact that counting had just started, and in some districts where there had been disruptions the day before people were still voting. I wonder what gave him such guts. Laziness? Maybe.

The example being set by Malawi shows how short-sighted our leadership is. They do not want to learn from an example set by South Africa just few weeks ago. They really don’t know what planning is or they don,t care. They do not care about democracy. The most essential ingredient of democracy is a free, fair and credible election. The Malawian election was far from being free, fair and credible. Democracy was compromised. I will submit that where there is no democracy there is no progress and development.

We wait and see how they will try and put that right.

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