Eight months into the presidency and a second term of office, President Peter Mutharika has had a difficult time at State House. From the day the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced the results of the presidential poll, indicating that he was the winner, Mutharika has had a bitter dispute with the opposition and the civil society over his electoral victory. The opposition on the one hand, led by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Transformation Movement (UTM), and the civil society led by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) on the other, have been to court and on the streets, respectively, seeking justice for an election they allege was mismanaged and far from transparent.
The court indicated that it wants the hearing of the election case to be concluded this December. It has been a long and protracted court battle. The case has generated a lot of interest and the expectation from both sides of the divide is too high, each expecting the top result with nothing else than a seat at State House, hence the call for leaders to prepare their voters. Judging by submissions from lawyers from both sides, each side thinks their lawyers argued better and ought to carry the day. As one of the authors in this Issue of The Lamp puts it:
“The situation is being steadily aggravated by public commentaries of the ongoing case. In particular, supporters of the petitioners, especially those on the MCP camp are already proclaiming judicial victory. In particular, when Daudi Suleiman, for example, began his testimonies, the hype in the MCP camp elevated significantly. In fact, it mirrored the noise that permeated people’s minds prior to the casting of the vote on May 21. As it looks, many (MCP) supporters highly believe that the judges “cannot make a mistake of ruling against the petitions.” Yet with court issues, nothing is certain. As many people have observed, it seems everyone is making comments with party colours in mind. That is our problem today.
A new call to democracy
Malawi has completed the first Jubilee of twenty five years of its democracy, though we had no time for national celebrations. Yes, it has been a difficult year – the political turmoil, the violence, the tribalism, the hunger and the worsening poverty levels – all point to the fact that Malawi needs a fresh start and a new beginning that offers hope. The political leadership is quite key in this ‘project’ for peace. They are the ones who woo people to protest when they feel that things are not working. They can also influence positive change, which is what Malawi needs most at this point in time.
Another important sector that can help to rebuild Malawi – especially after the elections case is over – is the Civil Society. For the first time It has been very key in organizing people to protest the presidential election result and manner in which the elections were mismanaged. The Civil Society must begin to think of reshaping the future of Malawi. It must assess its contribution toward peace in this just ending 2019 year.
The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), now become much too silent, must take up the courage of 1992 and the resilience manifested in the 25 years when democracy was kept alive and strengthen.
Malawians themselves have a bigger role to play if this country will have meaningful gains in terms of rebuilding the economy and creating jobs for most of the youth who are wallowing in abject poverty. For years now, Malawians have decided to leave the business of making democracy work into the hands of politicians and the end result has been disastrous. Democracy can work better if all citizens take part in entrenching it. The lack of interest in taking leaders to task on alleged corruption, embezzlement and political violence pity Malawians as a people in a failed state.
The beauty of it all is that, despite 2019 being a difficult year, all is not lost. Malawians must reflect on the year and welcome 2020 as a year that signals a new beginning. Now that hearing of the election case comes to a conclusion, Malawians must concentrate on other useful undertakings. They must work in the fields since the rains are here. It is the only way to deal with perennial hunger.
Malawians must also learn to coexist. What happened in 2019 especially after the announcement of election result shows how divided the country has become. The leadership must deal with all instances of regionalism, tribalism and cronyism. These are the vices that put the country at risk of degenerating into chaos. Peace and togetherness are two important elements that the leadership must preach on the path to make this nation great again.
Pope Francis this year is inviting us to prepare the birth of Jesus by following the old tradition of making a crib, a manger, a khola in our homes. “Why such a simple sign for our difficult days? Why does the Christmas crib arouse such wonder and move us so deeply? First, because it shows God’s tender love: the Creator of the universe lowered himself to take up our littleness. The gift of life, in all its mystery, becomes all the more wondrous as we realize that the Son of Mary is the source and sustenance of all life. a. He gave us his Son who forgives us and frees us from our sins. It teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God’s love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us…”
To our readers and advertisers, we at The Lamp magazine wish you a Merry Christmas. Let the festivities be a time for reconciliation and sharing; a time to pray for peace. Let peace reign in Malawi; let there be true reconciliation and a culture that promotes coexistence. More than ever before, Malawians need each other regardless of region, religion, tribe, colour or creed.