Hon. Folks, this week marked one year since the Constitutional Court terminated Peter Mutharika’s mandate to govern the country for a second and final five-year term citing massive irregularities in the May 21 2019 presidential election.
As anticipated, the February 3 2020 ruling thrilled many citizens—especially opposition supporters who voted for MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima of UTM Party in the botched presidential race.
The pair—now serving as President and Vice-President of the Republic, respectively—had earlier petitioned the court before the judges evicted APM from his comfort zone in what was widely seen as a ‘stolen’ victor by his DPP.
Notwithstanding his growing public disapproval, however, APM was still favoured by the electoral system in the 2019 polls and he miraculously inspired his party to a surprise 38.67 percent victory that shocked all serious minds that earlier vouched for a free, fair and transparent vote.
In fact it would be reckless to suggest that Mutharika himself was shocked by the outcome of the tedious ConCourt legal battle that lasted months. APM’s defeat was actually clear to some analysts even before 2019 as he fell out of favour with the bulk of potential voters mainly due to widespread arrogance, corruption, nepotism and impunity that dictated his regime’s end times.
Then there was another blow on DPP by the Supreme Court of Appeal which upheld the lower court’s verdict and aggravated the pain of individual political parties by ordering the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to hold fresh polls using the 50%+1 majority threshold.
Hon. Folks, in a nutshell this is a recollection of what transpired and earned Malawi’s five Constitutional Court judges global admiration for courageously reinforcing the tenets of our young democracy with patriotism and professionalism.
But 12 months down the line, Malawians again find themselves facing the same underlying governance and development problems that have existed for decades.
When Chakwera and Chilima took office on June 28, many Malawians had hopes that the myriad problems that the duo inherited from the DPP administration would soon disappear and things would start changing for the better immediately.
But apparently, the current administration seems to be wanting to convince Malawians that style is mostly based on ‘wait-and-see’ while time to start delivering tangibles is fast running out.
In one of his national addresses, for instance, Chakwera cited Covid-19 as a challenge that has greatly affected implementation of his government’s key plans and faulted those who are constantly ringing bells about his campaign promises to calm down.
After all the majority of citizens possibly understand the devastation Covid-19 has caused in the country and the world at large and can only give the government a rare benefit of doubt hoping the global health crisis will vanish soon.
Otherwise Malawians are still waiting for the campaign promises such as creation of one million jobs within one year of entering government, trimming presidential powers and continuing with the implementation of public sector reforms.
The government, as they say, usually has more time on its hand and can afford to wait while citizens who are hungry for immediate change usually lack that patience.
They cannot keep waiting until eternity, especially in view of the fact that such pleas have previously been used by past politicians as political cues to pull the wool over the electorate’s eyes while awaiting the next election.
Actually, Chakwera is not the first President to suggest that he will reduce his powers. His predecessor also made similar promises throughout his 2014 campaign trail but never committed to put his words into action once at the State House until power left him without warning.
Hon. Folks, get this message clear! These are trending narratives among commoners on the street, in the villages, markets, drinking joints and even in plebeian transports.
Back to the ConCourt verdict anniversary; let us respect the historic ruling for it reminds all legal institutions locally, regionally and beyond to play their role to reinforce good governance and accountability.
It is only by holding all elected leaders accountable that this country will start achieving the socio-economic transformation that has remained elusive for ages.