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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Walk the talk on impartiality

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Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, struck all the right chords Wednesday when she advised district commissioners, local councils’ chief executive officers and the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to be impartial when dealing with issues related to the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Ansah’s call for impartiality to these strategic stakeholders in the electoral process was very timely as the country inches closer to the elections.

The electoral chief’s message was also very important, considering that the temperature is rising ahead of the elections, as manifested by pockets of violence that flared in recent ward councillor elections in Mulanje District.

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Indeed, Mec, alone, cannot preside over elections of such magnitude successfully and effectively without police and council officers pulling in the same direction when it comes to enforcing the rules of the game.

We urge Ansah and her team at Mec to continue making the right noise until all players in the electoral process appreciate the importance of impartiality and the cost of the same to the country.

Experience has shown that district council officers and the police are quick and swift to act when it is opposition party players who are in the wrong during elections while treating those from the ruling party camp with kids’ gloves.

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There are many instances when the police have allowed ruling party zealots and thugs to act with impunity and go scot free under the full watch of helpless law enforcers.

We, therefore, hope that Ansah and her team sat down with the police officers to appreciate fully the challenges they face when they are supposed to act with impartiality on people who wield so much power.

We also urge opposition parties to obey the law all the time, avoid unnecessary retaliation and Siege Mentality, which can only fuel violence in the electoral process.

We do not envy Ansah because she has a very difficult job to ensure that district council officers and the police, most of who obey the unwritten ‘serving the government of the day’ rule, enforce the laws with impartiality.

It is even tricky to expect level-headedness from district council and MPS officials when it is common knowledge that top officials in these institutions are usually political appointees.

Faced with such a catch-22 situation, we can only pray and hope that these men and women in district councils and MPS will remember that we are in this ship called Malawi together and selective enforcement of the laws during next year’s elections can only succeed in rocking the boat we all call home.

We, therefore, agree with Ansah in urging all stakeholders in the electoral process to put the interests of the country first when discharging their duties during next year’s elections.

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