IT came as a shock but not as a surprise that the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has decided to postpone four by-elections scheduled for some areas in Lilongwe and Dedza districts.
Making the announcement yesterday in Lilongwe, Mec Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, said that government has no money to fund the polls initially scheduled for June 6.
For starters, the by-elections were supposed to take place in Lilongwe City South East and Lilongwe Msozi North constituencies as well as Mayani North Ward in Dedza and Mtsiliza Ward in Lilongwe.
Ansah made the announcement at a ceremony organised to launch the by-elections.
We find the manner in which the whole process has been handled by Mec and the government to be very suspicious and smacking of collusion.
To begin with, the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has never wanted the seats to be occupied by members of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). When MCP’s Ulemu Msungama demanded a vote recount in Lilongwe City South East Constituency, the DPP government and Mec developed cold feet. Later, a warehouse that had the disputed ballot papers was gutted by a mysterious fire. What baffled many was that the first people to arrive at the scene of the fire were senior officials from the government spy agency, the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB).
Investigations into the incident yielded nothing and Mec proceeded to conduct its affairs as if nothing serious had happened.
Then the DPP, through its candidate Bentley Namasasu, vehemently challenged Msungama’s court bid, to the point of appealing a High Court ruling that favoured Msungama.
Even after the Supreme Court granted Msungama his wish, Mec came with theories that did not exist in the statutes. It threw so many spanners in efforts to conduct a re-run in the constituency. Probably sensing government and Mec intentions to scuttle the elections, the MCP gave in to Mec’s machinations. With no more tricks up its sleeve, Mec announced dates for the polls and rolled out a calendar of events, only to make a u-turn at the launch of the polls.
It is a well-known fact that the by-elections are falling in areas that are MCP strongholds. Wounds that the DPP suffered at spirited by-elections in Mchinji and Lilongwe are still fresh and haunting the ruling party.
Well-meaning Malawians would be forgiven to think that the DPP government is playing delaying tactics to deny the MCP numeric supremacy in Parliament as well as in local councils.
Suppose the by-elections were to happen in DPP’s stronghold of Mulanje or Thyolo, would money still have been an issue?
Mec should know that its success in holding the 2019 tripartite elections depends on how it conducts itself between now and then.
But the DPP and Mec are only disenfranchising the poor Malawians who deserve representation for them to participate in national development. We expect the MCP and other stakeholders to press the DPP government to respect laws of this country which it vowed to protect and uphold.