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May Tripartite Elections poorly managed—Afrobarometer

ConCourt, opposition vindicated

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Sangwani Mwafulirwa

A survey by Afrobarometer conducted between November and December last year has revealed the May 21 Tripartite Elections were not free and fair and were worse in quality than previous elections.

According to the research findings by the Afrobarometer team in Malawi, led by the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi who interviewed 1,200 adult Malawians, majority of the citizens said the elections fell short of being free and fair.

“As of late 2019, a majority (55%) of Malawians said the May 2019 election fell short of being free and fair. Among supporters of the political parties of the major presidential challengers, more than three-fourths said the election was “not free and fair” or had “major problems.”

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Almost three-fourths (73%) of Malawians said the 2019 election was worse in quality than previous elections. Even among supporters of the ruling DPP, more saw a decline in election quality than an improvement (50% vs. 41%),” reads part of a document titled “Malawians see declining quality of elections, express little trust in the electoral commission”.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said he would not comment on the matter because he had no access to the survey.

“I will comment when they share the report with us so that I appreciate their sample size, questioning terminology and approach to the whole study,” he said.

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The results further revealed that about three out of 10 Malawians expressed concerns about media fairness, fear of political intimidation or violence, and ballot secrecy.

“Smaller proportions reported irregularities such as voters who cast multiple ballots and interference by security agents. But a majority (57%) pointed to the Mec’s declaration of the election results as faulty.

Only four in 10 Malawians (40%) saw the Mec as impartial, and only one in three (34%) said they trust the commission “somewhat” or “a lot.” Citizens’ views differed sharply by political-party affiliation, but overall, the Mec ranked last among key public institutions on both of these indicators,” it reads.

Commenting on the findings, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said the survey just vindicated opposition parties in the country who went to the Constitutional Court to challenge the outcome of the presidential elections.

“It is not a secret the elections were fraud. We went to court for that and the court ruled in our favour vindicating us. It is not rocket science that Mec did not run the elections well.

“However, we are glad that the courts gave us a second chance to make things right. But otherwise we all know that the elections were not fairly managed,” he said.

Efforts to speak to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi proved futile as he could not pick up his mobile phone.

UTM secretary general Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said the survey is a true reflection of what happened with the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

“We feel it is a true reflection of what is on the ground because if you look at the percentage of the people that voted; you see the people that voted the opposition in total is more that 60 percent, so you will see that the people did not vote for the current government.

“When you look back during the time the Human Rights Defenders Coalition

(HRDC) were calling for demonstrations, you could see the number of people

who would patronize, that should tell us that indeed a lot of people were disgruntled,” he said.

UTM president Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera went to the court challenging May 21 2019 presidential election, saying it was marred by irregularities.

According to Mec, President Peter Mutharika got 1,940, 709 votes against Chakwera’s 1,781, 740 votes and Chilima’s 1,018, 369 votes.

The Constitutional Court on February 3 nullified May 21 2019 presidential election and ordered fresh election 150 days from the day of the verdict.

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