Just when everyone thought correction fluid, Tipp-Ex, had been buried with that landmark Constitutional Court judgement that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential elections, its impact and span, it seems, might be forever etched in the memories of most people.
I was flabbergasted this past Tuesday when during Public Appointments Committee meeting with Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners, one Commissioner Catherine Kunje told the committee point blank that they too are a beneficiary of the same ‘Tipp-Ex’ and altered documents that helped punch their ticket to Parliament. One, Kumbize Kandodo Chiponda, did not take kindly to Kunje’s remarks and promptly rebuked her for her insinuations on the MPs.
I was not surprised when the committee initially threw her out before recalling her but things took a downturn at one point when she chose to go mute after being quizzed further as to why the commissioners had decided to announce the presidential election results before they had even signed the declaration documents.
Come the next day, it was the turn of Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to face the committee and she too was taken to task on the issue of Tipp-Ex usage to which she replied that the commission did not sanction its use and had initially quarantined the ‘Tipp-Exed’ documents to inquire how it had come into play and after being satisfied (to put it bluntly, justification by the commission) the electoral body decided that the ‘Tipp- Exed’ forms were admissible and did not think twice about using them.
Perhaps the learned judge underestimated the committee because she had another thing coming as the committee members quizzed her further as to whether Mec had within its election inventory, Tipp-Ex written anywhere…your guess is as good as mine; no or nada!
Based on how the commissioners interacted with the Pac members, I am left with the impression that the Mec commissioners came across as being condescending and this obviously did not amuse the committee as there were conflicting signals being transmitted by the commission during the interaction.
Why is he saying so, you might ask? Well, you just have to go back to the initial day the interrogations started and recollect the submissions before Pac by one of the commissioners and a lady of the cloth (just like Ansah) Mary Nkosi. Right from the outset, Nkosi showed remorse and did not, at any given point, try to poke holes into the determination by the Constitutional Court that nullified the results of the May 21 2019 presidential election. In fact, she is the one who made the damning revelation that the commissioners had only been made to append their signatures a day later to the declaration document for the ‘presidential election’ winner
As the saying goes; nsomba ikaola imodzi zaola zonse (one bad apple spoils the bunch), we are not going to exonerate commissioner Nkosi for she remains part and parcel of the commission but atleast she had the decency to admit that something went wrong, and according to her, this was right from the polling day (how ironic that she still gave the commission a score of seven out of 10 on how it handled the election).
And then we have one, Commissioner Moffat Banda who says given a choice, he would choose to own up to the mistakes of the commission as spelt out by the Constitutional Court but would not go as far as tendering his resignation over the same…really now?
It was not surprising therefore that when commissioner Yahaya M’madi took his turn and insisted that the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections were fair and credible, the committee chairperson Collins Kajawa took him to task, and only fell short of telling him that he was lying through his teeth by saying the polls were fair and credible.
The general feeling out there among the population is that we were all treated to a sham of an election because of the myriad of irregularities that were entertained by Mec and the sooner the electoral body accepts that, the better for all of us because only then can it plan on the 261 days which Justice Ansah says would be required if the country was to indeed hold a fresh election as ordered by the Constitutional Court on February 03, 2020.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).