There was a time prior to the 2009 elections when it was sacrilegious to even suggest that political parties must nominate members of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to be responsible for overseeing the electoral process from the time the president is sworn in to the next swearing in ceremony.
For the second time, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been in the enviable position of its leader having the power to select commissioners from the list of names submitted to him by the political parties represented in Parliament. He has as expected rejected most of the names submitted by the opposition.
Which is why it is shocking that the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is shocked that in the commission they are only represented by a geriatric who will be dozing as crucial decisions about the 2019 Tripartite Elections are being made by the majority DPP commissioners.
People’s Party (PP) also claims it submitted more than one name, but even without proof, we will trust they are telling the nation the truth and not simply vilifying President Peter Mutharika for doing what the majority of Malawians elected him to do; find loopholes in our laws and play them to his favour.
Let’s face it, the opposition political parties have been given a raw deal, but what can they do about it now except moan and groan to the media? Go to court? The hullabaloo surrounding the appointment of the Clerk of Parliament comes to mind but there she is, sitting at the table with the same people who did not want her in office.
The appointment of MEC commissioners have come and gone and the best the opposition can do now is make sure that their two representatives leave an untainted legacy in 2019.
The events of May 20 to May 23 2014 should not be forgotten. But as usual Malawians easily forget, may be it is high time our national anthem included a prayer alongside hunger, disease and envy.
The commissioners whose terms have expired, alongside Elvey Mtafu and the outgoing chairperson Maxon Mbendera presided over the most shambolic elections in the country’s democratic history.
At a time when the commissioners knew for sure that the elections were not going as planned, they failed to reassure the stakeholders and Malawians who were torching polling centres in frustration that everything was under control.
There was no reassurance to claims of rigging and to make matters worse, the judiciary took over the decision making powers from the commissioners.
After losing credibility following the poor administration of the elections, Malawians woke up to news that the commissioners in cahoots with the secretariat had over a period of less than five years helped themselves to millions of taxpayers’ money and sold each other vehicles bought with your money for a song.
It was the commissioners who knew that the commission’s operations account was being used to pay for gym equipment and a three month DStv subscription for the chairperson.
If you didn’t know, being chairperson of MEC requires high fitness levels in case he has to run from stoning by the aggrieved opposition supporters.
So in our excitement that for once public appointments have been made following the spirit of the Gender Equality Act, which should be expected, there is a need to keep our eyes open.
Vigilance begins not with the aggrieved MCP and PP that their people have not been incorporated into the commission but that we should all ensure the culture of impunity at MEC must come to an end.