It’s easy to feel exhausted or numbed by the sheer number of demonstrations that have taken place in recent months, and be skeptical of what they have accomplished.
The protests were initially sparked by Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who are unhappy with the outcome of the May 21 Tripartite Elections. While focus has been on the Presidential election disapproval, opposition parties feel Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) generally, failed to manage the whole elections.
Some civil society organisations (CSOs), led by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), have organised a substantial number of ‘peaceful’ nationwide demonstrations aimed at forcing MEC Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to resign. She has, however, vowed not to resign because she believes she has done nothing wrong.
Since the announcement of the May 21 election results, there has been a surge in demonstrations, disruptions and destructions. The past months have been nothing but edgy and uncertain. No one really knows what to expect when they wake up.
Those who feel numbed by the disruptions that come with the demonstrations, which often turned from being peaceful to violent, have a legitimate concern and so are those who believe the only way to get what they want is through these demonstrations.
Perhaps, for skeptics, their main worry is they do not see an end to the demonstrations, probably because to them the demands are unattainable. With an election case still in court, which could go either way, skeptics think maybe the right thing to do is to wait for the court case and, thereafter, there would be quite legitimate reason to take to the street for a sustained number of days. But those are the skeptics.
The skeptics also feel that these demonstrations, as important as they are, they somehow lack a good strategy in terms of making their demands heard and be granted and how to end them. Much as the organisers cannot be held accountable for what happens after the petitions have been delivered and the protesters have been dismissed, the protests have a hallmark of no direction and clear organisation.
The skeptics’ worry is that with Ansah putting her foot down, that she will not resign, will the demonstration organisers sustain the momentum?
As for the violence that ensues in almost every demonstration, security officers need to get their act together and not be hyper-reactive by throwing tear gas willy-nilly. The violence that has been witnessed during protests can be avoided if the security officers—the police—executed their duties professionally.