By Richard Chirombo:
Southern African Development Community (Sadc)’s call for a recount of votes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has put opposition political parties in Malawi on alert, with some saying the development raises hope that regional bodies would intervene in case Malawi’s May 21 Tripartite Elections are botched up.
Results which DRC’s Independent Electoral Commission released indicate that Felix Tshisekedi of opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress won the presidential election with over seven million votes, representing 38.57 percent of total votes cast, followed by another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, leader of the Lamuka coalition, who claimed 6.3 million votes, representing 34.38 percent.
Outgoing president Joseph Kabila’s preferred candidate Emmanuel Shadary got 4,357,359 votes, representing 23,84 percent of the votes cast.
However, Fayulu has challenged the provisional outcome of the December 30 2018 presidential polls, and filed papers at the Constitutional Court on January 12.
Sadc, to which Malawi is member, on Sunday called for a recount of the votes, saying, in a statement, that “A recount would provide the necessary reassurance to both winners and losers”.Advertisement
Reacting to the development, political analyst Emily Mkamanga has described Sadc’s position on the elections as “strange”.
“I find it strange because the gap [in votes] between the winner and the runner-up is big. Again, it is strange because they [Sadc observers] leave a country before the vote count. They do not wait.
“But, all in all, this means regional bodies have started intervening in elections and this means, in the case of Malawi, everyone has to be careful in the way we handle the May 21 Tripartite Elections,” Mkamanga said.
Malawi Electoral Support Network Chairperson, Steve Duwa, said regional and international observers can come up with recommendations depending on their mandate.
“In the first place, if it is true that Sadc has called for a recount, it is not a cause for embarrassment to the host country because it is a way of putting things right. For Sadc to come to that conclusion, it depends on a number of things: situation on the ground, laws and mandate of the mission.
“Normally, observers engage stakeholders before coming up with a statement. It is also important to know that observers give credibility to the election process,” Duwa said.
Meanwhile, political parties have reacted differently to Sadc’s statement.
Malawi Congress Party spokesperson, Reverend Maurice Munthali, described the regional body’s action as commendable.
“It has always been our expectation that regional and international bodies should intervene in some issues. However, we also have cases where they have issued questionable statements. When they send representatives, they should ensure that they do not monitor elections superficially, especially because, if they issue a statement, the world believes it.
“What Sadc has done in the DRC is commendable. It means Mec has to be on top of its game because, already, it has lost credibility after the missing of a voter registration laptop in Mzuzu, the missing of voter registration kit in Lilongwe and the suspicious movement of voter certificates from Lilongwe to Mangochi. Mec has work to do to win back stakeholders’ trust,” Munthali said.
He further warned governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) not to use taxpayers’ money for campaign, saying doing so would be tantamount to meddling with elections.
“They should stop using taxpayers’ money and public media for campaign. They should get ready to get embarrassed,” Munthali said.
UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, said Sadc’s statement means democracy is working.
“It is a lesson to us. It shows that democracy is working. Any election has to be credible, free and fair. In the case of Malawi, we must prepare well and level the playing field by giving all political parties space on public broadcasters,” he said.
United Democratic Front spokesperson, Ken Ndanga, said what Sadc has done is “the turning of a new page” in elections monitoring.
DPP spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, said “I am not interested in commenting on what the foul-mouthed, disgruntled opposition parties such as MCP are saying” on the issue.
Sadc is a 16-member bloc to which Malawi is member.
Kabila is going out after ruling the DRC for 17 years while the December 30 elections were billed as DRC’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
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