Sunday, May 25, 2014
Efforts at nurturing or growing constitutional democracy in Africa are often frustrated by the very people who should have known better not to tamper with the will of the people at general elections. Wherever constitutional democracy is being practised on the continent, such people always do whatever they can to pull strings for an undeserved advantage.
Malawi's President Joyce Banda is the latest. We know the circumstances under which she got elevated to that position and how she administered affairs of Malawi. We also know the history of Malawi ever since its first President Hastings Kamuzu Banda planted himself in office to behave as if his world would know no end. But the end came for him to usher the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy into office.
Many things happened until Ms. Banda’s assumption of office and the measures that she has implemented for weal or woe, leading to the general elections to pit her against other candidates. She is in power, indicating that she shouldn’t fear being voted down if her government has done what the Malawian citizens expect.
Even before the counting of votes could begin, Ms. Banda shocked her people by alleging electoral malpractices (rigging, multiple voting and computer-hacking) and taking a quick step to annul the Tuesday elections. Let’s hear her:
"I am nullifying the elections, using the powers invested in me by the Malawi constitution," Ms Banda told a news conference.
"I want to give Malawians an opportunity to choose a candidate of their choice in a free and fair manner. When elections are to be held again, I will be stepping aside," she added. (See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27556155).
But she won’t be allowed to have her way. She said a new vote should be held within 90 days but she would not stand again in any new poll. Malawi's High Court has rejected her decision to annul the general elections.
The head of the Malawi Electoral Commission also said as the President, she did not have the power to annul the vote. The High Court made its ruling after the commission said that despite problems involving the electronic count the poll remained valid and vote-counting would go on.
Clearly, Ms. Banda is already shocked beyond redemption. Her accusations are lame and betray her:
· The arrest of presiding officers who were "caught in the act of rigging"
· Some people voting up to three times
· "Serious anomalies" where some candidates won more votes than the number of registered voters
· Discarded and tampered ballots
· Communication devices of some monitors being blocked
She had previously accused a party, which she did not name, of infiltrating and hacking the MEC's counting system. The MEC's chairman denied that its system had been hacked.
It is troubling for an incumbent leader to go this way. The truth is that the voters have chosen to vote her down and the earlier she faces this reality to prepare for a smooth transition, the better chances are that Malawi’s democracy will not be destabilized. She must simply ready herself for her sorry Fate and leave the scene if the final vote tally confirms that she is not the people’s choice.
Folks, do you see how miscalculation by an African President can set the stage for political turbulence? Clearly, Ms. Banda must have acted on intelligence reports that she won’t win the elections. Thus, in her decision to annul the elections, she said that she won’t contest the elections if re-run within the 90 days that she proposed.
Apparently, she is scared by the outcome, provisional aspects of which the BBC report captured: Late on Friday, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) said Joyce Banda's rival candidate Peter Mutharika had taken a lead of 42%, with 30% of votes counted. Ms. Banda was in second place with 23%, the commission said.
It is very interesting the way she put it: “I am nullifying the elections, using the powers invested in me by the Malawi constitution” Does the constitution of any country ever INVEST powers in Presidents? No!! All the Constitution can do is to VEST powers in such people.
You see, folks, when a leader of a country assumes that power is INVESTED in him or her, the result is anarchy, especially if that leader fails to recognize the fact that the citizens aren’t pleased with his/her leadership style and outcome. That is, when that leader using the powers to compound problems instead of solving them.
And when such a leader is surrounded by a coterie of shameless sycophants who overfeed him/her with lies and fairy tales of development project all over the country, he/she can’t know the truth and enters elections with high hopes that his/her mandate will be renewed. And when the people prove otherwise, she turns to do things in a vain attempt to subvert the people’s will. Ms. Banda, take it from me that no power has been invested in you by the Malawian constitution. So is it for all other African leaders.
I shall return…
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