Honourable folks, APM reportedly told the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) that he would not fire the MEC commissioners. According to him, the commissioners did nothing wrong in the way they managed the May 2019 presidential election.
APM’s unwavering faith in the MEC commissioners is very surprising, considering that the Constitutional Court found that they failed to manage the controversial May 2019 election in accordance with the principles of law enshrined in the Constitution.
In its landmark ruling which nullified APM’s victory, a panel of five judges recommended that the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament assess the commissioners’ competence ahead of the fresh election on July 2.
Unsurprisingly, the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament would later recommend to APM to fire the commissioners it found that they mismanaged the past election; hence, should not be entrusted with managing a fresh election.
Folks, it is therefore surprising how APM, who is a seasoned professor of law himself, would defend the commissioners after the Judiciary and Parliament have provided legal and professional bases to dismiss them.
It begs the question of which foundation the President is using to justify his steadfast support for the officials at MEC. And then one has to consider the fact that the commissioners’ term of office is expected to expire on June 5, less than a month before the fresh election.
MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika is on record as having expressed concerns to the President that the commissioners’ impending expiry of their term of office would pose a challenge to the preparations for the fresh poll.
Folks, if memory serves me right, Alfandika wrote to APM to warn him that by the time the nation goes to the ballot to elect a new head of State, the new team of commissioners would “have had very little time to understand the process and complete the election”.
If APM sees no merit in firing the commissioners on the recommendations from the other government agencies, surely, the need to adequately prepare for a credible election should have been enough reason for him to consider bringing in a new team.
Malawi needs a credible election, managed according to the principles of law and the integrity Malawians expect. A failure to deliver an election the public can accept will plunge Malawi into another wave of violence and anarchy.
Establishing a new team of commissioners to replace the existing ones would have been a good gesture on APM’s part to show that he is committed to ensuring that the fresh election is fair by giving the incoming team ample time to iron out the mistakes made by the previous one and to prepare for the election.
APM’s popularity is at an all-time low ever since he ascended to the Presidency in 2014 and he is not doing himself any favour by aligning with the commissioners, who in the Judiciary and Parliament’s opinion, failed their duty. More so when public sentiment is skewed to the view that the commissioners rigged the election to benefit APM and his governing DPP.
APM would do well to recognise that the current preparations for the fresh elections are not up to standard, if the irregularities in the voter registration presented at the MCP presser on Wednesday are anything to go by.
Folks, if ever there was a time for APM to act decisively, it is now. In the public’s view, this is the latest in a very long line of tricks MEC and APM have employed to extend the President’s stay at plot number one.
The President should realise that his actions will only enforce the opinion that he is colluding with MEC to remain in power, even if it means violating the same Constitution he and MEC swore to uphold and protect.
It is high time APM put his personal aspirations aside and act to promote national interests. Standing by a group of blundering commissioners at a time when they have lost the public’s trust and compromising the preparations for a national election in the process would do a lot of harm to Malawi in the long-run.
Another flawed election would not resolve the electoral disputes that have plunged Malawi in an unprecedented wave of violence and political tension in this multiparty democratic dispensation. It would also undermine the winner’s legitimacy to govern.
The significance of a credible election should be clear to someone in APM’s position, considering his law credentials and as a leader whose legitimacy to govern has been questioned by both the courts and the public.