The break-in and theft at MEC offices in Area 3 in Lilongwe points to a trend about the malfeseance regarding elections in the country. Every time, there is a dispute over elections, some ignoble things happen either in the form of arson or theft of election-related equipment.
The burglary and theft of CCTV cameras a few days after President Peter Mutharika (APM) alleged that opposition political parties want to rig the May 21 Tripartite elections is one such event.
Now APM is not an ordinary person. As Head of State, he is also head of all security organs in the country. He is Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Defence Force and Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Police Service. As State President APM is also the head of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and the Immigration Department.
Whether it was a cook up or NIB, and whoever from his multiple intelligence bodies, fed APM information about an alleged plan by the opposition to rig the elections, he should just have acted upon it. If he believed the information, instead of putting the various security organs at his disposal on alert about the alleged planned scheme, the least he should have done was to make a political announcement at a campaign rally.
And then two days later, thugs hit MEC offices and steal CCTV cameras. If government wanted to foil the alleged scheme shouldn’tit have just enhanced security at all MEC offices?
In May 2014, MEC declared DPP’s Bently Namasasu winner of the parliamentary poll in Lilongwe City South East constituency, beating his MCP rival Ulemu Msungama by a difference of 102 votes. Msungama challenged the results in court and in July 2014, ruled that there should be a recount of the votes.
DPP immediately sought an injunction restraining MEC from carrying out the recount. Two days before the High Court was set to hear the case, fire gutted the whole warehouse which was keeping all ballot papers-including those from the disputed constituency-and polling equipment and cameras some of it borrowed from Zimbabwe.
Both MEC and MCP said they suspected arson. A few months later, because the ballot papers were burnt, the High Court ordered for a re-run in Lilongwe City South East constituency. Msungama’s victory of the election was a confirmation that the earlier poll was rigged. It also further strengthened the reason the resistance by DPP or its agencies for a re-run in the constituency.
And now five years down the line, MEC has not been given any detailed report of the fire, according MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa. In short, the MPS has never carried out any investigation into the fire. Shouldn’t government have been keen not just to investigate the issue, but also and more importantly, speedily do so?
And now we have this break-in at MEC offices, a facility that was being guarded by two (armed) policemen and some guards from a private security firm. Where were all of them when the thugs came? These policemen and guards from the private firm know something about the burglary and theft at MEC.
The pollster body reports the theft to police for investigations. Which police? The same compromised police? With their poor record on similar cases, how can they probe themselves and expect they will bring credible findings? MEC should not cheat anyone that it expects the police to dutifully investigate the theft, expose and prosecute the culprits?
Now Vice-President Saulos Chilima who has been part of the DPP government since 2014, has just confirmed what we all along suspiciously thought was just a trend. Or do we have a better reason to think otherwise?