Alhajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (RTD); Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66; the Most Paramount Mzee Mandela, Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD) and I, the Mohashoi, are currently in Besancon, in South Eastern France, home to the great lawyer, playwright, fiction writer and poet Victor Hugo. We are here to enjoy a bit of promenade, as easy walking around is called in this country, because Besancon is by French and European standards a small city endowed with green undulating paysage. We paid around 20 euro each to get here.
The French elections have told us many things, which Malawi ought to learn from to deliver credible elections from today until we be a one-party state again.
One thing that shocked us during the May 9 presidential elections was the virtual absence of election observers and monitors. There was no European Union Observer Mission. No African Union Observation mission. No Sadc monitors. And we knew why.
To be honest, no country needs the so-called election observers and monitors because name for us just one country in the world that has ever reversed the results of its elections even after the so-called election observers and monitors had written a damning report like they have done on Malawi’s election elections since 1999.
Curiously, the only elections in post-independence Malawi that were declared free and fair were those handled by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in 1993 and 1994. Yes, the same MCP that is maligned daily as the party of death and darkness and crocodile party. However, if you want to know who is undemocratic and steals or mismanages elections, at least count the MCP out. On serious introspection, we even conclude that if the people that have run Malawi since 1994 had been tasked to manage the 1993 referendum, Malawi would have remained a one party State to date.
We, therefore, ask Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson not to waste money on inviting or accepting accreditation from foreign election monitors and observers. They don’t matter. Do they? If she does, she will be made to regret her choice.
The second lesson is, we hear, that every French person aged 18 years and above is deemed a registered voter. What it means is that once a French person turns 18 years, the electoral voter registration system automatically registers him or her as a voter although voting is not obligatory and the final score is calculated out of those who have actually voted. That is why, despite some 16 million voters casting invalid ballots, Emmanuel Macron is reputed to have won by almost 67 percent while Marine LePen got 33 percent. Unlike in Malawi, the French voter can cast his or her vote during les presidentielles anywhere dans la Republique.
The French have a two round presidential election system to ensure that during the premier tour, the chaff is sifted from the grain. And only the first and second placed grains or candidates meet in the second round. If there in the federal Republic of Malawi we organised our elections similarly, we would easily get a president with more than 50 percent of the vote. The only disadvantage is that the winner of the first round is not necessarily guaranteed a win because the losers may team up and ask voters to vote against their common enemy. In this case the winner of the premier tour and those that scored poorer than Marine LePen teamed up to ensure LePen lost. And lose she did because her party controls only two states.
We have also learned the importance of the defeated candidates accepting their loss and congratulating the winner for the sake of democracy and progress. However, we appreciate and everybody understands why this does not happen there at home.
Finally, we have learned how important it is to announce election results immediately. It gives confidence to the electorate that there has been no fraud and the winner should never be sworn in before sunrise and before proper handover has taken place.