AS you may have observed by now, the attention of the nation has been gripped by the national recount stemming from the March 2nd regional and national elections.
At this juncture, it has become apparent that the process has discovered troubling anomalies and irregularities that border on criminal negligence, which point to a criminal scheme being afoot on March 2nd. Despite this fact, some have dismissed these dastardly findings as ‘mere discrepancies’. Due to that regrettable posture, perhaps it is an opportune time to ventilate the sacred connection between the will of the people and credible elections in a democracy.
Elections are the crown gems of a government by the people and for the people. As a consequence, developments that invite doubts are worthy of eminent review and investigative consideration, and cannot be swept under the proverbial carpet.
ELECTIONS AND THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE
Free elections denote the right to take part in an election, fairness and credibility following the prescribed constitutional processes of that engagement. In my estimation, the best elucidation of the role of elections in a constitutional democracy that I have seen is contained in the words of Said Adejumobi, in his article, ‘Elections in Africa: A failing Shadow of Democracy’ contained in the International Political Science Review, Vol.21, No.1 59-73 on page 60: ‘….Further, elections typify the representation of the popular demands and a basis for leadership recruitment and socialization…Renewal in democratic systems usually occur via elections. Any political system which does not undergo such, will ultimately atrophise and suffer decay. In other words, elections constitute perhaps, the most important element in the conception and practice of liberal democracy’.
With this in mind, one ought to be revolted by the suggestion that missing documents, ghost voting and incompetence bordering on illegality should be ignored. Elections are the conduit through which legitimacy is established and it seals the social contract in which the people agree to give a selected few scrutinised Lordship over their affairs with the expectation that those appointed will protect their welfare. This sacred process cannot be the remit of fictitious numbers, the migrated or the graveyards.
THE MALAWI EXAMPLE
The prosecution of the case above is well served by bringing to attention the nullification of the Malawi elections and the subsequent legal challenges and judgments that ensued. General elections were held in Malawi in 2019. On the night of those elections, President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party was declared the winner.
Opposition leaders challenged the results by alleging that the election was rigged by altering results sheets using correction fluid. Leader of the United Transformation Movement (UTM), former Vice President Saulos Chilima petitioned the High Court of Malawi. During the case, evidence was submitted of widespread irregularities that called into question, whether the outcome was a true reflection of the will of the people as expressed on the day of elections.
The High Court of Malawi accepted the arguments presented by the legal representation secured by Mr. Chilima and reinforced that widespread irregularities negate the will of the people. President Mutharika and the electoral commission Chair, Jane Ansah, appealed the decision and argued that the High Court overstepped its powers.
The Republic of Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal sitting at Lilongwe affirmed the decision of the lower court and, in so doing, re-emphasized that the will of the people was too celestial to be sacrificed by mere discrepancies. In its deliberation, the court noted, ‘Elections define the roadmap and lifeline of society, in that elected few become responsible for the welfare and the wellbeing of the rest of the society.
We should, therefore, avoid, at any cost and on any account, ushering leadership into office through an electoral process that is flawed because the chances are that such a process will not reflect the will of the people’.(MSCA Constitutional Appeal No.1 of 2020 p.6)
THE DISCREPANCIES ARGUMENT
Despite the well-established above, some argue that elections are complex engagements and anomalies, irregularities and discrepancies are inevitable. In addition, they contest that it is impossible to follow electoral laws and procedures to its perfection and letter. Such utterances proceed from voices that are not respectful and pay little or no deference to the consecrated concept of the will of the people.
Intimidation of elections monitors, bribing of elections monitors, presiding officers influencing voters on their choice, tampering with ballot sheets, unauthorized persons being found with papers and ballot boxes, failure to deliver ballot boxes under absolute security, non-verification of voters and ghost voting are not discrepancies. They are deliberate attempts to thwart the will of the people.