December 12, 2019
It would appear Malawians had an early Christmas gift when Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera said on Wednesday he was ready to meet Peter Mutharika to try and resolve the current political impasse the country is facing.
That came out after he met the leadership of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to discuss how the MCP leader would prepare his supporters in the event that the five judges of the Constitutional Court do not rule in his favour in the elections case.
Nothing could be sweeter to the ear than the news a day before that Mutharika conceded that he was ready to prepare his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) followers that it is possible that the case may not end as expected.
A Chakwera-APM meet is very important as the high-profile case goes into the final leg. It is most important that the two leaders show their supporters that they are for peace and harmony.
Since the May 21 elections results were announced, pitting Mutharika as winner and Chakwera as his nemesis with UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima coming third, there has been unnecessary political tension in the country. One can only hope that Chilima, who is the first petitioner in the case will be part of the face-to-face meeting.
It is clear that after the elections were announced, Mutharika was sworn in hastily, long before the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) could hear the MCP complaints.
Soon after he was sworn in, Chakwera went to town that he was not accepting the results. In his words, he indicated that he could have sought redress from the courts even before Mutharika was sworn in, but he did not want to create confusion.
He refused to take up the leader of opposition mantle and when Mutharika presented the State of the Nation Address (Sona) MCP parliamentarians booed the President until Speaker Catherine Gotani-Hara called on the Sergeant-at-Arms to boot the legislators out.
On his turn, Mutharika has for so long declared that he won the election. That as it may be, mass demonstrations calling for MEC chair Jane Ansah’s head have characterised his rule. We have lost so much in terms of time, lives and infrastructures in the demos championed by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
I feel that apart from discussing how the leaders can diffuse the tension that may follow the court ruling, PAC should also initiate between the two the much- needed understanding on why there has been this impasse. This is the opportune time for PAC to indicate why all along they had been pushing for the 50+1 majority system of electing the president is necessary.
It is up to the ConCourt to declare whether there were indeed irregularities during the polls. So, I am basing all this on the results MEC announced. There is a gap of a little over 100 000 between Chakwera and Mutharika, which gives so much chance to speculate that the polls were rigged.
Had parliamentarians passed the Electoral Reforms Bills in their original form, all this mess could have been cleared since only Chakwera and Mutharika could compete.
It is also important that PAC initiates the talk for Mutharika and Chakwera that the new elections law could have averted all this since it provided that the president should not be sworn in until after 21 days so that all complaints are resolved. The idea of rushing for swearing-in ceremonies and inaugurations gives the impression of a raped election.
It is time Chakwera, Chilima and Mutharika came to the roundtable and show that they are fighting for the common good, not their own selfish motives. Only this week, the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) pegged Malawi at number 172 where we were in 2018, against the common lies we have been fed that we are growing. It is high time the leaders showed us they were working to uproot the entrenched poverty that keeps haunting us. n