January 30 2020
So, the Constitutional Court will on Monday deliver its landmark ruling on the presidential elections case! Malawians are filled with pregnant expectation as the venerable judges Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Dingiswayo Madise dot the I’s and cross the T’s in the final judgement on the constitutionality of the May 21 polls.
Since the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced on May 27 President Peter Mutharika won the presidential election, Malawi has not been at peace. The day the High Court consolidated the petitions from UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera’s against MEC and Mutharika brought a new direction for the nation.
Spates of violence have rocked the scene, much of it unthought of. We have seen a police officer and some civilians being killed as the unrest ensued. The nation has been on fire, literally. Public and private property has been destroyed in the fray.
As the court hearing progressed, we heard of close to 20 women being raped by officers of the law at the epicentre of the demonstrations: Nsundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe. I daresay up to date, police is still shielding the men in uniform who engaged in such brutal and inhuman acts.
All eyes and ears are now on the five judges. The colossal task before them is just too huge as it points to the future of the Republic. It is really very hard for them since justice does not have a middle of the wall standing. You are either guilty or not, nothing in between.
So, among other things, the judges will be looking into whether the petitioners had nothing but to have a prima facie case or, as the respondents propelled, they were supposed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the elections were irregular.
Onus is on the judges to determine whether the manner in which the elections were conducted did not impinge on several sections of the Constitution.
At the heart of the constitutional case are Sections 40, 76 and 77. The primary question, according to the petitioners, is: Did MEC infringe on Chilima, Chakwera and Malawians’ political rights as stipulated in Section 40 of the Constitution?
There have been speculation, mudslinging and all the rub on social media as regards the judgement. One thing that is clear is that it is only the judges who will determine whether the election that saw Mutharika getting approximately 1.9 million votes, Chakwera 1.8 million and Chilima 1 million was a true reflection of the wishes and will of the people of Malawi.
It is my only hope, like many have said before, that after the pronouncement, the country will move forward in peace. The greatest lesson we have to draw from the eight-month standstill is that elections should not be taken for granted. They are at the very core of our democracy for it is here that politicians derive the power to govern from the people.