The deplorable events at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) launch of the 2019 campaign period should not be ignored and swept under the carpet. Instead it should be seen as a sign of a difficult period ahead.
What should have been a professional function where political parties commit to a peaceful campaign period devoid of mudslinging and personal attacks turned out to be the opposite.
Supporters of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) used the function to undress each other for their political choices to enter into an electoral alliance or not to take part in the presidential and runningmates debates.
These supporters even had the audacity to boo their own traditional representatives, chiefs, for allegedly not representing their interests—meaning they have not endorsed the political party these supporters belong to.
The supporters of MCP and DPP lost an opportunity to show the MEC leadership and other stakeholders that they can be mature and maintain peace.
This unruly behaviour by supporters of political parties that should have used their political experience to demonstrate that they have learnt a thing or two having participated in elections on several occasions should be condemned in very strong terms.
Good behaviour should begin at the highest level of leadership in MCP and DPP. If the leaders behave like savages, is it any wonder that the supporters follow?
By the way, these are individuals who cannot even cite a single entry in their parties’ manifestos, but are merely used as muscles to intimidate legitimate and peace loving voters.
To think there are some pockets of the public who defended the behaviour of these MCP and DPP supporters to the extent of attacking those political parties that did not take part in the insults, as if such deplorable actions translates to votes at the polls.
As we head to elections, there is already a short video circulating of supporters of the two parties taunting each other in a public place. The situation was so tense that any slight provocation could have escalated the situation to violence.
Just recently, voters have been beaten and manhandled for merely donning their own party colours and going about their business.
If these levels of intimidation, violence and using insulting language are not checked immediately, the next 60 days are going to be dangerous.
Supporters of MCP and DPP should be reminded that the nation has seen levels of violence during elections before and those who perpetrate it have not always won. The label of ‘party of violence’ or ‘party of death’ sticks with voters.
Credible voters who know the value of exercising their political rights would know better than to give a vote to political parties that view violence with such rose coloured glasses.
The leadership of the DPP and MCP should be ashamed of their supporters for these acts which brought their already dented reputations into further disrepute.
It was barely two months ago that political parties committed to conducting peaceful campaign devoid of violence, insults and intimidation.
What should it take for the political parties to realise that politics of intimidation and violence are a thing of the past? Loss of lives perhaps? Violence and insults will not bring votes, if the voter has no trust in your potential leadership, they will not give you their vote.