18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. 19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.—Deuteronomy 16:18-20
If a cat gets its hands on a spool of yarn, in no time it can unravel the spool, often entangling itself in the yarn of the spool. This appears to be the case when a team of leaders with personal and corrupt intentions take the reins. The first intention usually leads to plots to stay in office or in a democracy and fill the numerous strategic positions with one’s supporters.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in announcing President Peter Mutharika the winner of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections amid concerns of election anomalies, has ended up compromising Malawi’s democratic progression. The culmination of which is the demand for MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, who is also Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge, to resign her position.
As the Constitutional Court panel of five-judges appear to be winding toward a decision on the petition brought to it by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda this week presented what appears to be the straw that may break Malawi’s democracy camel’s back.
Witnesses brought to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) relayed pristine evidence to try and prove that the elections were marred by irregularities. Furthermore, during cross witness testimonies, members of MEC were at pains to freely give their version of the various mismanagement of the election process as stipulated by Malawi Electoral Law.
The icing on the cake in the ConCourt 2019 election case was the revelation that MEC and its commissioners’ lack transparency in their delegation of duties, even to represent the body at the ConCourt proceedings.
In a recent discourse on the May Election fraud, the question was asked who is masterminding this circus? While that was a rhetorical question and did not need a response, this week’s revelation by Chief Justice Nyirenda that he has lodged a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) following concerns by some of the judges on attempts to bribe them shook the nation.
Some people are wondering why the justices made the revelations; supposedly wondering “don’t they have children they want to send abroad for better education?”
Some good informant sent this tongue-in-cheek response from Evison Cizza (excerpts):
1. To tell us who the winners are before the judgment comes. No winner attempts to bribe a judge, this is the work of a sour loser.
2. To be friends with all sane Malawians.
3. To save Malawi from the burning hell, these judges have been enveloped in the Holy Spirit and are here proving that this is a divine war. They have seen the future of Malawi should they allow bribes.
4. To have eternal and internal peace. No matter how much money one gets through corruption, it never births peace.
5. To prepare for their higher positions in the government to come. As Jesus said, “those who do as I say will be with me where I’m going”. These judges undoubtedly have plans of reforming and building Malawi.
6. It’s about legacy, and nyota (medals), as every great man craves so much to be recognised.
These are great reasons indeed; the ConCourt panel are to be congratulated, and the Chief Justice to be lauded for taking the bribery complaints to ACB.
The cumulative effect of the numerous actions of this President and the DPP in 2019, are a big burden to bear for Malawi. Malawians should not allow this cat to unravel the yarn of democracy that we threaded together in 1993 for the benefit of all Malawians in the sphere of multiparty dispensation that is free from corrupt dealings and fraudulent practices as bribing judges.
Long live genuine democracy!