This week, I am grappling with some troubling questions. The drama at the constitutional court has been gripping.
The allegations and claims, the evidence, the simulations, the questioning techniques, the questionable objections, the various applications and rulings, the styles of the lawyers and witness’s testimonies, have all added to the drama that has attracted public attention.
But soon this will all come to an end. Finally, the judges, very soon, will pronounce their verdict. One way or another, we will find out whether a ghost user who hacked MEC’s computer system elected for us a president, or whether the aspirations of the people were white washed and replaced by some crooked conspiracy aided by Tippex—that now infamous correctional fluid.
Or, all this, has been some sort of hallucination made up by the opposition fearing for a further stint in the cold lonely corridors of opposition. Maybe, indeed, there were a few irregularities, but that did not alter the election results as the Attorney General and colleagues have tried to contend in court.
Whatever it is, we will soon find out. Our good five judges (you wouldn’t want to be them, would you?) will soon tell us what they think happened. And their opinion is law. Their opinion will decide the destiny of this country in more ways than one.
Of course, in the court of public opinion, all of us, too, who have been closely following the court proceedings, would by then have made up our mind.
Some, naturally, will agree with the court’s ultimate decision, some will not. This, after all, is a deeply polarised nation. If you check the voting patterns from the disputed election results, you can actually divide the country into three zones—North for UTM, Centre for MCP and South for DPP. If you use the protests patterns, the country can be divided into two zones: North and Centre for opposition, and South for DPP.
And not much of this demographic detail would have changed by the time the courts pronounce their ruling. And the judges cannot do anything about it. They will certainly need the military guaranteeing their security, but what about the rest of us?
Certainly, the tension, which has gripped the country since the disputed elections, would not have subdued. And depending on court ruling and how our political parties react to the ruling, the ruling could light an inferno that could destroy the country.
So, let us be grappling with these questions as judgment day approaches. What happens when the court orders a re-run or not? If it’s a re-run, is the environment enabling for another round of campaigning?
Will the tension in the country have subdued enough to allow the political parties to campaign openly in the other’s strongholds? Who will be in charge of the elections, Jane Ansah and the same commissioners appointed by the same president? Will just a fresh re-run with the same set of rules and management at MEC work.
If the court validates the election results, how will the country move on? How will the country’s democratic franchise survive the voter apathy that is likely to follow such decision? Will Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima order their folks off the streets or will they ask Msundwe garrison for one more march of anger and consequently unleash the demons that have engulfed the country during those deadly protests.
These are things that we should all bear in mind as we watch and listen to whatever remains of the court drama.