The hotly contested by-elections which took place in Nsanje, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Dedza on Tuesday are over. It is time for the losers to accept defeat with dignity and the winners to celebrate with humility.
We do not need to remind the winners that, in modern politics of Malawi, the electorate is too demanding. There is simply no honeymoon for the newly-elected ward councillors and legislators.
Therefore, the winners may do themselves great justice by hitting the ground running to deliver on their campaign promises, knowing pretty well that the 2019 tripartite elections are on the bend.
For the losers, well, this is not the end of the world. Dust yourselves up and move on. Afterall, there is no successful man who has never seen failure.
What matters is learning your lessons and bouncing back better and smarter next time.
Certainly, these elections have proved that no amount of intimidation and money can corrupt people’s minds when voting.
The hoodlums that intimidated and harassed people in the build-up to the elections did so much damage to their political parties.
The fact that five of the six seats that were up for grabs have gone to main opposition Malawi Congress Party shows that you can fool some people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
To be honest, Malawians in these four districts have given the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) a resounding vote of no confidence.
And the last thing the DPP can do is live in denial and go for revenge by punishing people that have voted for MCP candidates by denying them development projects.
There are plenty of lessons for the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and stakeholders that were involved in the electoral process.
The violence that flared in the four districts in the build-up to the by-elections should give the commission food for thought on the importance of civic education.
Additionally, there was enough evidence of voter apathy in most areas. People are too busy with their poverty to go and vote. People are so frustrated with their selfish leaders.
People have lost hope in petty partisan politics that, at the end of the day, do not bring food on the table.
If such apathy is not addressed holistically now, the 2019 tripartite elections might also be negatively affected.
To cut a long story short, we say congratulations to the winners and hard luck to the losers. For Mec, the outcome of these by-elections is food for thought. For DPP, all we can say is that “we told you”.
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