The judgement handed down by the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe on Monday is landmark and historic in several ways.
But there is also something about it that tells the nation what has really been happening and continues to happen in all public institutions.
The five judges hearing the case in which Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima sought the nullification of the May 21, 2019 presidential poll granted the petitioners their wish.
So, the courts have told us Democratic Progressive Party’s Peter Mutharika was not legitimately elected and it punched several holes into how Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec)—led by Supreme Court Judge Jane Ansah—handled the election.
The gist of the judgment, in my lawman understanding, lies on the gross disregard of laws that govern elections in this country.
Mec, that body mandated to manage elections in this country, messed up the May 21 polls and the judges elaborately indicated how this happened.
But then, the comprehensive decision also tells us what must have, perhaps, been happening all this time regarding election management in this country.
There have always been complaints about irregularities regarding the management of elections but oftentimes, the complaints have been trivialised and we have gone ahead to massage them as a country.
For records sake, after every election, observers, both local and international, have made suggestions about what needs to be modified or added in the country’s laws for better management in the future.
After the 2014 polls, observers recommended that, among others, Malawi should adopt the 50+1 electoral system where the winner in the presidential election should be someone who has managed to amass more than 50 percent of the total valid vote cast.
A Special Law Commission was instituted to look into the matter and traversed the country to obtain views of Malawians on the proposal. It returned with a confirmation that the country needed the law. Of course, several others emanated from similar consultations and they were later being referred to as electoral reform bills.
Our Members of Parliament—in whom there is that absolute power of making laws—rejected the bill because of personal interests. It was clear they were not looking at the future of Malawi.
Well, that is not strange. Our lawmakers are largely short-sighted and push their interests ahead of everything else.
The rejection of the bill and others on electoral reforms buttressed the longstanding habit of our elected officials who seldom represent the will of Malawians.
An absurd proposal was put on the table that the 50+1 provision should also apply to the lawmakers. It was a ridiculous ploy to kill an otherwise important piece of legislation which would augment the power of those mandated to govern us.
But then, there is hope in our judiciary. We have seen that despite that there always will be some rotten apples in this arm of government, there are dignified men and women who are always willing to bring sanity to an otherwise blemished system.
What the five judges have exposed in the case should also prod various public officials to go back to the drawing board and make things right.
Following laws is alien in many government institutions. We have seen that in areas such as procurement where rules are flouted with careless abandon. It is a chaotic system that needs some serious cleansing and the presidential elections case judgment gives us a great opportunity to achieve that.
The only hope that we have to make things right in this country seems to lie in our judiciary. Some men and women there are eager to help in creating a Malawi that posterity will be proud of.
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