There has never been a time in our history when the country has faced one of its most critical challenge like the one we are facing now. Last night the Chairman of the Malawi Electoral Commission Justice Maxon Mbendera declared the process of the disputed 2014 Tripartite elections free, fair and credible. The only question everyone has, is to whom.
The Justice of Appeal went further, describing the 65 anomalies that had been noted as such and not consistent pattern to subvert the will of the people. This was on the eve of a court ruling, that will reclaim Malawi either as a democratic or a chaotic nation.
We have become a laughing stock, reduced entirely as a travelling theatre and nobody among our political class seem to care. They all want their positions to prevail. The Courts have been dragged into the mud and for the first time, Malawi's most independent Government branch has come under attack from all sides based on ones political inclination.
The biggest question is what next for Malawi? Where did we go wrong that today we have reached at a circus level of a nation? Who can salvage the situation? And what could be the future.
There are many hardworking Malawians, who live barely on the few kwachas they make everyday. The majority remain poor, the pay cheque has been devalued over the years and simply life is tough. This electoral impasse is not helping anybody to say the least. The few tourists we had, they have all gone. Business meetings cancelled even charities are hesitant to proceed. Apart from the constitutional crisis, we are now heading towards a fiscal crisis where the budget will collapse on June 30, 2014 and without any recourse to a proper Government system, services will have to come to halt and then the economy, already sliding down will eventually collapse.
Where are we coming from. We are a nation that is proud to be identified as tribalistic. Look at the voting pattern and results, they tell you everyone voted for "wakwawo" save for the few districts in the North and Centre. This is what has brought us to the end.
There was no vote for young people estimated to be at least 2 million voters for their fellow youth Atupele. He should have won easily. But even the next generation of voters are tribalistic, they did not care the age or message, neither did they want to hear anything other than the candidates from their tribe. The same with women voters, they did not want a woman despite all their cries for equality, they voted mainly on tribal lines. I can confidently say that the women of Malawi, as they let their opportunity to vote for their fellow woman, will have to wait for another perhaps 50 years before making it to the top again. Thats my prophecy.
From the tribal card, we have been arrogant for the past four elections mainly by politicians in the ruling parties to change and conform our electoral rules to best practices. One of the key thing is that we are paying for not having adequate laws to ensure that the voice of majority, at each election should be heard. There is a whole document from the Law Commission gathering dust somewhere which proposed that a President should be elected with 50+1. Which meant after all this madness, we should have had a second round to determine by majority who should rule us. Every selfish decision has consequences and I can say thats what has brought us to this mess.
The other element is the logistical systems we have in place. First of all the framers of the constitution in 1993-94 realised the huge task of organizing elections. They separated the Local Councils from General Elections. Even in England today, Local Government elections are held a year before General Elections realising the massive logistics that they require. Even counting at one tally centre, there was abit of chaos.
It was a wrong decision to combine the three and it would be intelligent to revert to what was obtaining in the beginning. These donor pushed changes should come with proper funding and logistical systems before we accept wholesale changes.
The other element that is critical is that we need the National Identity card, which is biometric and issued from birth and cancelled at birth. This card should be used to vote. The card will simply identify how many Malawians are over 18 and those that want can always go and register in the vote register using the card to vote. This will reduce the expensive exercise of issuing new voter cards every five years. Unfortunately the process for us to have identities is also taking ages.
So where are heading. The crisis that is in Malawi is political, only a political solution will solve it. Everyone, every stakeholder in the election should start rethinking their positions and what is good for Malawi. There is no sense in fighting in court, it will just continue the division.
Late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda said only contact and dialogue solve problems, he said you can shout in Lusaka, shout in London or Addis Ababa, but only when you sit down and talk do you find a solutions. Mozambicans fought for 17 years, sat down for one year and spoke to each other, now they are on their way to prosperity. Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27years, started secret talks with Boers administration, within two years South Africa was on its way to a democracy. In Angola, they fought for 18 years, sat down in the 18th year, within months they were on their way to peace.
Its only in sitting down and talking that a solution can be found. Let us go for Negotiations and not medication and conciliation. There is a huge difference between the three. Article 33 of the United Nations Charter encourages all of them as processes towards a peaceful settlement to any challenges.
Today, my appeal is simple let all 12 Presidential Candidates convene and meet, not four, but 12. Why, as we have noted, some can join one side and bring more challenges.
For People rioting in Mangochi whose property are they burning, whose business are they blocking, a closer look is of their own families and freinds and neighbours. Violence begets Violence.
Bravo to the Malawi Security Agencies for remaining professional at this time, the end will only come with talking to each other.
It is after all, Our democracy, our land and our only Malawi