Presidential Slip of the Tongue- Madam Midday One
As I finally depart from the beautiful African soils to Europe, after my brief Johannesburg stop over, political drama continues to unfold in Malawi. 2 hours is a longtime in life. When I departed Lilongwe yesterday, Rev Dr. Chakwera had a narrow lead and, by the time I landed in Johannesburg, Prof Peter Muthalika had regained the lead. It all points to a APM win, based on the unofficial results from constituencies. There is indication of anomalies, for example, one result in Ntchisi shows a possible doctored result with MCP results not registered. Looks weird and raises suspicions. The question is the extent of such anomalies and whether they do affect the overall results. That is a matter for MEC to resolve.
Today 24 May, I woke up to a shocker as President Joyce Banda nullified the elections using Section 88 (2) of the Constitution which says:
"The President shall provide executive leadership in the interest of national unity in accordance with this Constitution and the laws of the Republic".
There is an overwhelming condemnation of President Banda's pronouncement as unconstitutional as this section of the Constitution is not about elections according to legal experts. I listened to the phone call which the President made to Zodiak radio to make the pronouncement. It was a tired and confused voice of President Joyce Banda who was on that line. She had withdrawn an earlier statement that quoted Section 82(2), which she called "Slip of the Tongue". It is true that the election was a sham by any standards in terms of logistics and opportunity that this created for rigging. It is equally true that the election was going to be between the three main parties namely PP, DPP and MCP. This means that each of the parties had an equal chance to win. The fact that PP is a distant third with projected 12 Members of Parliament and that they only won the northern region vote, says a lot about lack of genuine popularity in general for the party.
The President should have been the last person to try to flout the constitution especially after Malawians defended the constitution to get her into power. The Midnight 6 still stand accused and she has now become the Midday One.
I understand rioting has taken place in some areas and the President is being accused of fuelling the riots so that she can justify the use of section 88(2). It remains to be seen whether the plan will work. The role of the Armed forces will come into play and right now there is simply speculation as to the role the Army will play. I hope though that common sense will prevail and the President will rise above pettiness and withdraw her pronouncement.
When this is dusted and done, Malawi urgently needs a THIRD FORCE which is the citizenry, to ensure that the first agenda for the next Parliament should be adoption of the recommendations of the 2007 Constitutional Review which included provision for the 50+1 requirement, bringing back the recall provision, reduction of presidential powers and separation of Executive from Legislature. If we don't get the Parliament to consider and adopt some of the recommendation that achieve this balance and reduction of power, we will have bigger problems in 2019 and before. Unfortunately Lawyers who play this game are interested parties in getting a share of the "cash gate"pie and they easily compromise their professionalism once they get into power. We also have activists who are opportunists and a are always attracted to jobs with fat cheques and compromise their stand. To avoid this, there is need for a Pact by a group of concerned Malawians and all interested stakeholders who will be committed to work on pushing Parliament until this is achieved. The group can even lobby for suspension of aid until we achieve what is agreed. The group should come up with a Written Declaration that the political parties should sign and commit to undertake within a year after being sworn in. It is our only chance.