If there is any Malawian who says is not anxious about tomorrow—the day the panel of five judges who have been hearing the disputed May 21 2019 presidential election case will make their ruling—that one will be lying. Truth is, fear and anxiety has gripped the country. At every turn, the talk is about the landmark ruling that the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judges are expected to make tomorrow.
It is this anxiety and fear that has seen some businesses and organisations instructing their employees not to report for work tomorrow. So, too, are some schools that have temporarily gone for a recess, until after the ruling tomorrow. The fear is that there might be violence if the ruling doesn’t go in favour of the petitioners or the respondents.
I am inclined to say that these fears are somehow unfounded, but then, Malawians have in the past months, since the May 21 Tripartite elections were announced, witnessed violence and public disorder during sanctioned and unsanctioned demonstrations. It is as if Malawians do not know peaceful demonstrations. Coming from such a background, it will be wrong to fault those that have decided to take security precautionary measures.
Almost all political parties—the big stakeholders in the elections case, have tried to pacify their party support to be calm, peaceful and respect the outcome of the ConCourt, whichever way it will that is—whether the presidential election will be nullified or the status quo remains. However, one cannot rule out some pockets of unruly, ungovernable and overzealous party supporters who will try to appear to be more concerned by taking to the streets.
It is good that security agencies have assured Malawians of security and peace during and after the ruling.
The outcome of this case will change Malawi’s landscape forever. This case is a defining moment of the political history of Malawi. From tomorrow, it will never again be business as usual. This case has inadvertently, taught Malawians in high and low places valuable lessons about accountability and transparency.
The usual clumsiness that bodies such as Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) have handled elections in the past, is expected to change. It is hoped this ruling will teach MEC to pay attention to detail and to never take a Malawian voter for granted. The same applies to politicians who often listen to their own voices. We wouldn’t be here if Members of Parliament from both sides had passed the Electoral Reforms Bills. Their short-sightedness and greed led us here.
If truth be told, the past elections have been messy it is just that probably electoral stakeholders have never had the zeal and impetus to secure the electorate’s vote because they either benefited from the messy or indeed they were just hopeless.
The masses that turned up for the demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), were another turning point in Malawi’s citizen involvement. For the first-time, Billy Mayaya, who had become a lone ranger always standing up against the ills Malawians are facing, was no longer a laughing stock. Going forward, one can only hope this spirit, where Malawians stand up against social, political economic ills, will be sustained and not dimed.
This is a policy window that needs to be grabbed with both hands. From henceforth, let MPs go to Parliament and adopt the electoral reforms; otherwise, if this chance is missed now, come 2024, we will be in the same state as we are now.
Regardless of who will carry the day tomorrow, Malawians, are the biggest winners of this case. They will no longer be docile and taken for granted.
May God bless our beautiful country, Malawi.