Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wishing You All The Best!











Best Wishes for Christmas and New Year


Netball Basics and Lazarus Chakwera Politics




Pictures Taken At Sanjika, The Office!











MSF!






The Good People of Mwanza!


















2014 Was Great!

2015 Will Be Better!




Tripartite Elections To Forget?

It has been a year of mixed fortunes: 2014.

In one moment, President Joyce Banda is jumping up and down the country- distributing a goat here, a cow there, and chicken over there!

In the next moment, President Peter Mutharika is being sworn in, and then inaugurated, and Joyce Banda is nowhere to be seen.

That is what made the year 2014 a year of mixed fortunes, depending, of course, on who you are.

Specifically, the year 2014 marked the end of a two-year-old journey for Banda, hereinafter referred to as the former president of the Republic of Malawi.

She had gotten a free ride on the back of the Horse of Fate on April 7, 2012 when fate hit the New State House in Lilongwe empty-handed, and went out with the Mighty Heart of former predident, Bingu wa Mutharika.

Of course, nobody saw fate enter the New State House, but no one could hide that it (fate) 'abandoned' the premises on April 5, 2012 with something Malawians held so dear; the good health of the president Malawians had voted for in the 2009 General Elections- leaving the nation in showers of sadness. Again, depending on what side you were on.

If you were on the side of the then ruling- and now re-ruling- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), April 5 was such a sad day because, for the first time in Malawi's history, a sitting president had been taken ill- seriously ill- and rushed to the Kamuzu Central Hospital, the referral hospital in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe.

This, too, was strange. Malawi's leaders do not waste time visiting public health facilities for reasons well known to the (wo)man on the street: poor service delivery, poor remuneration, poor this, poor that. Malawi's leaders rush to South Africa (the Military Hospital or Garden City Clinic) to access medical attention.

But here was Bingu being rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital. The traffic in Lilongwe went still. And, as news that the Great Man was sick or something, shook the nation and, for a moment, affairs of the state took the Stand-Still turn.

Two days later, Bingu was no more.

The unimaginable was to happen. His estranged vice, Joyce Banda- who had by now formed her own People's Party after being shoved out of the DPP dining room- was to become President. The DPP could not swallow this.

And so the meetings that gave Malawi the name Mid-Night Six as a gift started being convened. It was ruling DPP gurus who could not stomach the idea of Joyce Banda sitting on the hot throne when the body of the 'real' throne holder was getting cold by the day -not to mention that it was yet to be buried at Ndata!

But Banda did become president, on April 7, 2012. And, for a moment, there was hope. 

She had come in at a time when fuel queues were getting longer by the day. Sugar, the sweet product Malawians have ever known, was becoming as scarce as spring in Malawi. And, yet, the sugarcane that gives birth to sugar-everything is grown on the plains of Nchalo in Chikwawa District and Dwangwa in Nkhota-kota!

She came at a time when the International Monetary Fund- that Great Economic Thief of Africa and the Sleeping World- had packed its dirty, swelling bag of 'economic lies' in protest against Bingu's insistence that he could not devalue the Malawi Kwacha without assurances that the IMF- again, that Great Economic Thief of Africa and the Sleeping World- would provide mechanisms that would cushion the negative impact of such a move.

While insisting Bingu died, and Banda came in. The second Banda- no relationship with Malawi's founding president, Kamuzu Banda- to rule Malawi after Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

What did Banda do? She devalued the Kwacha as the statement below testifies. It happened on May 7, 2012:


The Reserve Bank of Malawi (the Bank) has today 7 May 2012 devalued the Malawi kwacha exchange rate from K168 to K250 per United States dollar. At K250 per dollar the Kwacha exchange rate is fully adjusted. The Bank believes that the black market rate must be substantially undervalued given the extent of the scarcity of foreign exchange.
In anticipation of this devaluation, the Bank has taken steps aimed at allowing the Kwacha exchange rate to be determined by market forces as well as improving the availability of foreign exchange in the market. In this respect, all United States dollars earned at the tobacco auction floors will now be transferred to the sellers’ commercial banks rather than to the Bank. Second, tourists can now settle their local bills in any convertible foreign currency or in Malawi kwacha after selling foreign exchange in the market.
The devaluation of the Kwacha and the liberalisation of foreign exchange market are expected to contribute to government’s efforts to reach early agreement with the IMF. Such an agreement is needed to unlock donor flows in the next few months.  The currency adjustment is further expected to have the effect of reducing demand for imports of consumer goods in favour of domestically produced goods.
Existing exporters, including sellers of tobacco at the auction floors, are expected to benefit from the devaluation through increased Kwacha earnings. Furthermore, the smuggling of products (including tobacco) across the borders is likely to be reduced as a result of the devaluation.
The impact of the devaluation on general prices is anticipated to be muted because most prices already reflected the black market rate at which most suppliers have been sourcing foreign exchanges for quite a while.
Admittedly, the devaluation should have awaited the clearance of external payments arrears to avoid adverse impacts on the corporate sector. However, this was not possible as efforts to source foreign exchange for the purpose were unsuccessful.
Finally, in spite of the devaluation, the Bank remains committed to its overarching objective of price stability in the medium to long term.


Charles S.R. Chuka
GOVERNOR
7 MAY 2012
   
Immediately after devaluing the Kwacha, sanity returned in the economy. Call it temporary sanity. Fuel reserves were full again. Sugar became as commonplace as the Chambo (Tilapia saka) of Lake Malawi. Malawi was on the way to recovery.

Not that the DPP, on whose ticket Banda had stood as running mate to Bingu in the 2009 presidential election, was still in power. It was the turn of the Peoples Party. 

Through fate- epitomised in Bingu'S death- the Peoples Party became a ruling party without facing the test of a national election. That is the thing about politics in Malawi. Voters do not vote for a political party. They vote for individuals even when the individuals are contesting on political party tickets.

This explains why political parties have no power to remove presidents from their positions, unlike in South Africa when the ruling African National Congress was able to remove former South Africa president Thambo Mbeki and replace him with Jacob Zuma.

Banda made a number of defining decisions during her tenure.   She established the High Level Development Council at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre in her bid to speed up national development on 16th January 2014. Maybe she did not know that she had she had five months remaining before heading for her Malemia Village in Zomba City.

Here is what she said: 

Hon. Ralph Jooma, MP, Minister of Economic Planning and Development;

Mrs Hawa Ndilowe, Chief Secretary to the Government;

Prof. Mathews Chikaonda, Chairman of the High Level Development Council;

Distinguished Members of the Council;

Government Officials here present;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning and welcome to Sanjika Palace, Blantyre.



As you are aware, last week Thursday, 9th January 2014, I announced the establishment of the High Level Development Council which will provide leadership in reflecting on the past 50 years and advise us on the strategic options the country should consider in ensuring that our long term development goals are realized.




I am overwhelmed with the enthusiasm with which you have accepted the invitation to serve on this Council. I really wish to thank you all for accepting to serve your country in this capacity.




I have taken time to reflect on my life journey and how this has influenced my Presidency. As a human rights and development activist, I have learnt that it is possible to break the barriers of development. I know it is possible to transform our economy. It is possible for our country to prosper.




Through the economic empowerment programmes that I have been involved in, such as the National Association of Business Women (NABW), the Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA), the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE) and the African and American Business Women Alliance (AABWA), I have seen the poor become rich; I have seen the forsaken loved; I have seen abandoned children become heroes; I have seen the illiterate get educated; I have seen failed and abandoned businesses recover and flourish. Yes, this has been mostly because of keeping focus, proper planning and appropriate networking.




What I have learned most from this experience is the impact of income into households. It has taught me that income is critical in the overall development of individuals and families. I have seen women gain more respect in their homes and in communities when they earn incomes into their households.




In this journey, when I became President of the Republic, as many of you are aware, I inherited a battered economy, angry citizens and bankrupt treasury. Many prophets of doom said that the country would collapse and saw only disaster for Malawi. Others argued that a woman President would not be able to run this country. The two years have taught us that these challenges can be overcome.




During this journey, in my State of the Nation Address to Parliament on 18th May 2012, I told the nation that, “Malawi has to identify development tablets that will guide our development agenda regardless of which government or political party is in power”.


Banda: Malawi has to identify development tablets



This journey reminds us of the National Dialogue on the Economy soon after I took office where we developed the Economic Recovery Plan. We followed up with a review workshop in 2013 facilitated by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During the two years, I have asked myself many questions trying to understand the challenges that this country is faced with.




With all these efforts, we have since witnessed many reforms in Government. Our economy was expected to grow at 5 per cent and now we are looking at 4.5 per cent due to other emerging issues, a jump from 1.8 per cent in 2012. Today, our foreign exchange reserves are at more than two months cover from under weeks in 2012. Today, our industries are operating at more than 75 per cent production capacity from 30 per cent in 2012. Today, our electricity generation capacity is at 352 mega watts from 287 mega watts in 2012. Today our people enjoy more freedoms and exercise more rights than they were in 2012.




I have noted that the main disjoint in our development efforts stems from lack of national ownership of our development plans. There is also a gap between our development plans and implementation as a result the country has not been focused and consistent with its development plans. These development plans have lacked institutional ownership to remind Government to remain focused on the long term perspectives as planned, even though situations may be difficulty.






Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council


On 6th July, 2014, Malawi will be attaining fifty (50) years of independence. A critical assessment of the outcomes over the past fifty (50) years reveals that our country is failing to meet most of its development goals and aspirations.




Last year, I had an opportunity to meet many people including the Pastors Fraternal with whom I shared my vision on the clocking of 50 years and entering another jubilee this year. As an outcome of our meeting, I told them that what we need as a country is a Master Plan to guide us on the medium and long term development perspectives.




Many other stakeholders including the interfaith body, Public Affairs Committee, through their All-inclusive Stakeholders Conferences have also noted the need for the country to have an Agency to steer our development plans which must be insulated against negative political influences.




Indeed, there is consensus that most Malawians today are poorer than was the case at independence. We have a situation where more than 65 percent of our people are living below the poverty line of less than $2.00 per day.




It is evident that our growth so far has not been sufficiently inclusive as evidenced by the too many people that remain poor and marginalized. This is a clear indictment on the development agenda of our country.




Our primary education though free, many of our children learn under trees and in some cases in open air. We have witnessed public outcry on the quality of education in public schools.




Despite having district hospitals all over the country – except in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu where we have referrals only – our people still die unnecessarily of curable diseases due to shortage of essential drugs and facilities.




Yes, even though we are a hard-working people, more than 1.2 million of our people are facing severe food shortages. Fifty (50) years down the line, our agriculture remains less developed, characterized by low technology absorption levels and low productivity and very little value addition.




As a country, we have the resources needed for development however we need a complete change of mindset in order for our country to develop.




Good political and economic governance is a pre-requisite for economic and social development. Our nation’s development agenda needs to be reorganized in order to strike a strategic balance that will effectively harness our development aspirations.




As your President, I have come to the conclusion that a business-as-usual approach is unacceptable. We must change the way we do business. There is need to define the architecture of our development agenda as a driver of socio economic transformation for our country. As we have noted the past 50 years have failed to stimulate development and the transformation of our country’s economy.




Therefore there is need for a new configuration in driving Malawi’s transformation in the next 50 years. This will therefore entail urgent review of the Core Function Analysis of the work of various ministries and related development institutions with a view to identifying their contribution and current challenges in the transformation of our economy. Of importance is to focus on “game changers, paradigm shifts” that will make a difference in fast tracking socio economic transformation of our economy.



Our special focus should be on enhancing rural transformation including wealth and job creation, hunger reduction, improving living conditions in our villages and the role of the private sector.



As a country, we need to identify mechanisms that will spur the nurturing of Malawians entrepreneurs. We can draw from the experiences of the emerging economies such as the Asian Tigers and other countries of the south such as Brazil, India and Malaysia.



And here back home in the 1990s, we had a programme that provided skills and capital to small and medium enterprises. It was called Small and Medium Enterprises Fund and was housed in Reserve Bank of Malawi. We also had organizations like Small Enterprise Development Organisation of Malawi (SEDOM) and Development of Malawi Traders Trust (DEMAT) which sponsored and mentored small and medium enterprises.





Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council


I am of the view that Malawians are now ready to participate in a transformational agenda to realize our destiny as a nation and to define our strategic advantage in the region.




I am optimistic that Malawi has the capacity and capability to tackle its development challenges. However, this will require an inclusive approach and a strong transformational framework anchored on the support and determination of all Malawians and sectors of society. In any case we have human resource base which has built the economies of other countries.




It is against this background that I have established a High Level Development Council. The Terms of Reference for the Council are:



Analyse the status of our development after fifty years of independence: identifying lessons, successes and challenges;

Based on the above, provide strategic direction on the next long term vision;


Advising Government on strategic options as well as quick win strategies for implementing development reform programme in the short and long term;


Advising on the road map for policy and development programmes’ implementation;
Consider and advise on emerging issues on social and economic policies affecting national development;


Advising on the linkages and synergies on country development frameworks;
Strengthen national effort in resource mobilization to support national development;


Facilitate national consultations with all interest groups on socio economic development to bring change of mindset in order to strengthen ownership and adherence to implementation of national development plans, and;


Facilitate institutionalization of the culture of national debate and dialogue on development issues.




The Council consists of 23 part-time members appointed because of their expertise, experience, ability and potential to contribute to a long-term, dynamic and sustainable development plan for the country. The Chief Secretary to Government and the Principal Secretary of Economic Planning and Development will serve as Ex-officio Members.





The mandate of the Council is to take a broad, cross-cutting, independent and critical view of Malawi’s development needs, to help define the Malawi that we seek to achieve over the next 50 years; prescribe the necessary and sufficient conditions for achieving the desired outcomes; and clearly outline the path and implementation; monitoring and evaluation strategies to achieve those objectives and the aspirations of our people.



This Council is a high-level advisory body which is tasked with preparing proposals and recommendations for the State President and ultimately Parliament, after being legislated, on issues affecting Malawi’s long-term development needs. Taking a long-term and independent view will add impetus, focus and coherence to our work. It is my hope that the Council will be able to take a bold stand for accountability of all the three branches of Government: the Executive; the Legislature; and the Judiciary in the delivery of services to the nation.




The Council is expected to put forward clear recommendations for Government based on solid research and sound objective evidence against the backdrop of international best practice.




The Council will work with broader society to draw on the best expertise, consult the relevant stakeholders and help to shape a consensus on what to do about the key challenges facing Malawi.




The establishment of the High Level Development Council is, therefore, our promise to the Malawi nation that we are extremely serious about building a just and fair society and a state that will grow the economy, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for all our citizens.




As I said during the announcement of the Council, the immediate task for the Council will be to convene sector specific consultations that will input into a National Forum on Malawi at 50 to be held from 4th to 5th March this year. The conference will then draw up a Plan that will harmonise and inform the implementation of our various development frameworks. It is my hope that this will be a living document and can be improved upon.





In closing, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council, I wish to remind you of my State of the Nation Address to Parliament where I said that indeed “I also have a dream. I see a Malawi where her citizens enjoy their freedom, dignity and a sense of pride. Yes, I see Malawians maximise their capacity to realise their social, political and economic empowerment. I see Government eradicate poverty of its people through economic growth and wealth creation.”





Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council,


Yes, it is possible to realise this dream as we journey on. I see a village with a clinic. I see a village with clean water. I see a village with a modern school. I see a village with a micro-finance bank. I see majority of my people becoming financial citizens. I see a village growing enough food and cash crops. I see a village whose people are empowered and take charge in shaping their destiny.



Yes, I see a community that decides where they want to be and get involved in getting there. I see justice and fairness upon our land. I see freedom upon our people.



Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council,

This dream is still alive. I see children going to school and not spending time in their parent’s gardens during school time. I see the girl child excelling in her education like her brother. I see more students accessing higher education. Yes, I see our education system delivering quality education. I see our health system delivering quality health care. I see more women and youth in decision making positions.



Finally, as we continue to reconstruct Malawi and reclaim the whole country for all, we break down the divisions and attitudes of the past. We free everyone from the last forces of oppression and cynicism. The emerging period must be a period of all Malawian peoples, to continue working together, building the nation.



For it is only when we strive towards this unity, as a people with one destiny, that we will release our energies, enabling us to fully rebuild this great nation. It is our task to make the most of our freedom, to entrench it as a fundamental and permanent feature of our existence. It is our task to continue to work for democracy and good governance in the coming years ensuring that peace, stability and development prevail throughout this country.


The appointing authority: President Joyce Banda


It is our task to manage the economy with prudence and diligence to ensure inclusive growth and prosperity. The challenge facing each and every one of us is to contribute to a complete and rounded picture of the emerging period.



I wish to congratulate all of you on your appointment to this High Level Development Council. It is my hope that you will live up to the expectations of all Malawians in the discharge of your duties.


I call upon all Malawians to give support to this Council so that together we can realize our dream of becoming a middle income economy.


May God bless you all.

I thank you for your attention.


Credit should go to Banda for pulling Malawi through an economic crisis of sorts. Her only undoing was too much travel and politics of appeasement.

But her greatest undoing was Cashgate, the looting of public resources at Capital Hill. Soon, institutions such as the Malawi Council of Churches were on her neck, as the Press Statement- issued on October 18th, 2013- below indicates.

MASSIVE LOOTING OF GOVERNMENT COFFERS: NEED FOR INDEPTH FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

‘Maintaining Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace’ – Eph 4 vs 3



Press Statement: For Immediate Release





Our Mandate



Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) is a fellowship of 25 Protestant Member Churches and 20 para-church affiliates which is committed, faithful, transparent, accountable and financially sustainable in the advancement of God’s mission, transforming humanity after the image of Christ, promoting holistic human development and fostering communities in the communion of peace, justice and love.





Our Concern


THE Malawi Council of Churches would like to express total shock and surprise at the manner public servants have ripped and continue to rip off government coffers, which has demonstrated a lack of fiscal control on the part of government, and the Finance Ministry in particular.



The Council finds that such gross abuse of public funds does not only deny God’s people the opportunity to take part and enjoy His resources with equity and without bias.



The Malawi Council of Churches also bemoan the fact that it has taken government long to start to be seen to uproot the vice, notably recognising that a lot of people have been denied progress in their day to day livelihoods such as in the health, education, agriculture (food security) and other sectors. Due to this unwelcome development, Malawians have met with inadequate and lack of quality service delivery on the expense of a few civil servants who have connived with some politicians. The Council wonders if members of the banks and private sectors have not taken part in this rip off.



However, the Council takes this opportunity to commend the government and leadership of the country for taking the first steps in addressing this serious matter, and by providing a conducive environment for a rejuvenated fight into graft, by way of:-



Dismissing and hiring in a new cabinet

Ensuring that the arms of the law, i.e. the Malawi Police Service, the Anti-Corruption Bureau, and the Fiscal Investigations Unit, among others, engage in serious and meaningful discharge of their duties such as:-

Arresting suspects

Investigating the scandal further at public and private sector platforms.



The Council is aware that Malawians are angry and are expecting that more will be done following this scandal. The Council is also confident that government will take the peoples’ concerns at heart and ensure that all the culprits are apprehended and brought to book.



More dilly-dallying in catching and prosecuting the so-called ‘big fish’ implicated in the fiscal scandal will only further cost the citizenry more in terms of democratic and economic strides and continue to corrode the confidence the people have in the leadership. That is the only way the Rule of Law must be adhered to at all times.



Malawi Council of Churches emphasizes that exhaustive and sober conduct of fiscal investigations throughout the processes be employed in dealing with this scandal. As the Church, we are anxious that billions of tax payers and donor money have already been lost and may continue to be stolen if nothing tangible is done.





Our Stand and Call

The Malawi Council of Churches therefore strongly calls upon the leadership, and all other stakeholders that the plans to develop a comprehensive roadmap towards dealing with this financial scandal be a concerted effort. Government must be seen to act to register serious approach to the concerns of Malawians and the donor community, and must not stop at the current arrests, but must apprehend all that are implicated following extensive investigations.



Delay by government in addressing this matter can lead to more loss of public funds and loss of trust of the people in the leadership and the entire fiscal establishment. Government should be made aware that such looting over the years has had negative impact on Malawians, especially rural masses that are the hardest hit as they are more dependent on public services. This kind of looting is also in conflict with the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) which was established rather to transform the economic livelihoods of the people.



The Council also calls upon the Police, ACB and FIU to hasten efforts to arrest the situation as this has the potential to prevent the objectives of socio-economic development and set austerity measures. All stakeholders and the citizens of Malawi must place more interest in the way government runs its business by joining hands in bringing to light any malpractices. The Council therefore wishes to thank those courageous and law upholding citizens for blowing the whistle in this scandal.






In Conclusion




The Malawi Council of Churches therefore urges all Member Churches and Malawians at large to continue to pray towards the maintenance of the national economy, and takes this opportunity to emphasize that the dismissing and hiring of the new cabinet has been with anticipation that the appointed ministers are of high integrity and are God fearing as already expressed by some of our Member Churches.



Finally the Malawi Council of Churches categorically emphasizes that the Christian Church is in support of the comprehensive fiscal audit and other corrective measures, including apprehension of all culprits involved so as a sure means of restoring the confidence of the people.



“…………………………………….” .



God bless Malawi.





Rev. Alex MAULANA, Chairperson

Rev. Dr. Osborne Lukiel JODA-MBEWE, General Secretary


Executive Board Secretariat


Dated: 18th October 2013


Things were falling apart.

However, even when it was clear that something was amiss, Banda kept her confidence going into the May 20, 21, 22, 2014  Tripartite Elections. (The elections were a strange thing, too. Tripartite Elections conducted within three days, instead of the planned one day. Tripartite Elections that were Malawi's first.

In the end, when Justice Mbendera announced the results, Malawi had made a record. The first female president became the first sitting president to lose an election after becoming president without contesting as president.

The days immediately before and after announcement of the results were stressful to many, journalists, the Malawi Electoral Commission, The State House. The following statements, among the many, can attest to that:


'Media Practitioners, Media Houses in Malawi Should Stick to Codes of Conduct'

As Malawians eagerly await the announcement of Tripartite Elections results by the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec), attention has suddenly turned on media practitioners, who are expected to lead the nation towards the path of sobriety during this tense political period. Our reporter RICHARD CHIROMBO caught up with Media Council of Malawi Board Chairperson, Prof. Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, on media performance and other issues. Excerpts:


Media practitioners pride themselves in being independent and objective. However, of late, we have seen media managers and associations calling on journalists to side with Mec in its endeavour to administer free, fair and credible elections. Doesn’t this entail throwing media independence to the wind?

Our starting point should be: What does the law say? The law provides that the body mandated to manage elections in Malawi is the Mec. There is no other body. So, if media houses and individuals support it, bias can’t come in because media houses are simply being consistent with the legal provisions. The law provides that Mec should work freely, without undue interference from anyone, including the media. We are, therefore, calling for political parties to back off, and give Mec space to work within the confines of the law. In a nutshell, siding with Mec cannot be construed as bias; it simply means we are being consistent with the law. We want Constitutional bodies such as Mec to be seen to be working as provided for in the laws.



            


          The political weather is hot, the citizens are anxious and, inevitably, the media cannot 
          escape the heat. What should be the role of media houses and practitioners in
          upholding democratic principles? 


In terms of the actual work of media practitioners and houses, they should stick to codes of conduct that guide them. For instance, we have the Malawi Media Code of Conduct on elections as well as the Media Council of Malawi’s Code of Conduct that regulate the work of journalists. All these codes of conduct rally against partisan reporting, sensational reporting, mixing opinion with facts, and cheque book journalism being used as tools of propagating the lines of others. If we do this, there will be objectivity, credibility. It’s actually dangerous for media practitioners and houses to actually get out of what is provided for in the Code of Conduct and behave as youth wings of political parties.




Some things are better said than done. How can these ideals be realised, practically?

Journalists can cover the elections, or any activity associated with the elections, so long as they ensure that they back themselves with facts, figures. They should always separate personal opinion from facts. They can comment, but they should base their comments on evidence. They should draw a line between an assessment based on personal view and that based on people’s views.


Then, there is the issue of extending the electoral calendar. One school of thought has it that Mec can seek an extension from the courts, while another school of thought is propagating that only the Parliament can do that. The media is caught in the maze of these arguments and counterarguments. Which side should they (media) lean on?

(They should lean on the side of) the law. The law provides for the Elections’ Calendar. The Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, the Local Government Elections Act- which, I understand, was amended- provide for an elections’ calendar.  The law mandates Mec to announce the results within eight days, plus an allowance of 72 hours. So, as long as Mec is working within its calendar, there is no wrong committed. If there is need for an extension (to the calendar), it should not be done in conflict with the electoral calendar, which is in line with the law. In which case, Mec needs to move a motion, appear before the courts. But, again, the calendar cannot be extended beyond what is provided for in the law. However, if Mec officials want to amend a specific provision; that is the role of Parliament. Otherwise, Mec can extend voting to within seven days of the electoral calendar. For example, if the elections were scheduled for May 20, they can extend them to 23rd May or 24th May, so long as it is within seven days of the electoral calendar. We have had such cases before. In 1999, for example, the date had to be changed. In which case, Mec has to provide material evidence that there is a risk to the elections but, still, this must be within the timeframe.



            What about the issue of vote recount?
     

Our starting point should be: Who is mandated to manage the electoral process? It is Mec. And, so, it should be Mec seeing the need for recounting. A motion should emanate from Mec, providing reasons and evidence. The evidence must be adequate, credible. The recount can be in various degrees: Recount in the sense that, as you are counting, you make a mistake and you want to cross-check; a recount where you sealed ballot boxes, and you want to open them again; partial recount, to verify results that affect part of the electorate; or a total recount, in case the entire electoral process is affected. In all cases, the body mandated is Mec, and what matters is the gravity of evidence. Even with a recount, there is a possibility that the elections will be compromised. In short, recounting establishes credibility of election results; it’s not just about who has won or lost.





What lessons can media practitioners and the nation draw from Malawi’s first Tripartite Elections?
The first lesson is that the First-Past-The-Post system, much as it is simple, is very problematic in closely-contested elections. I think the 50+1 provision would have solved all these problems because the winner and the runner up would have been announced by now. The second lesson is that, when the Constitution was being framed, we never anticipated that we would have problems of this nature. Who would have imagined that electoral results would be challenged before they are even announced?  Again, there is no provision on nullification of elections in case of massive irregularities. Surely, it can’t be the incumbent president resolving these issues. And, certainly, it can’t be the courts settling each and every issue. 
    

This was not the only statement. There were others: 

Mec Update on Tripartite Elections Results


PRESS STATEMENT

28 May 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,


On behalf of the Malawi Electoral Commission I am here to report on developments and progress in the Tallying of the election results. The law requires the Commission to announce its determination of the national election results within 8 days from the last day of polling.


As you will recall, our last day of polling was on Thursday, 22 May. Therefore the Commission has a legal duty to announce the results not later than Friday, 30 May, 2014. The law allows the Commission to announce the results within 48 hours after collecting all relevant information.


This 48 hours is provided to allow the Commission to attempt to resolve any complaints that have been lodged. As of this afternoon the Commission has registered 287 complaints of which it has processed 188.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


I can now report to the Nation that the Commission has received and tallied all of the results for the Presidential election at the National Tally Centre.
As such, the 48 hour countdown has started and the Commission will announce the determination of official results for these elections on Friday, 30 May.


The Commission will utilize the remaining two days to finalize and resolve the complaints it has received for the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections.


If all complaints cannot be resolved within the remaining time, candidates will still be able to take up any concern via a petition to the High Court, within seven days of the announcement of the results, as the law provides for.


The Commission has also continued with the verification of the results. We are working diligently to identify any irregularities. This includes the 58 polling centers where the number of valid votes reported to have been cast have exceeded the number of registered voters.


These issues will be commented on in our report to the Nation on the announcement of the determination of results.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


We are all aware of the legal controversy that has surrounded the possibility of the Commission conducting a recount.


At this stage we await clarity from the Courts on this issue, as they seek to resolve the injunctions and counter-injunctions being lodged.


On this issue, the Commission has met with many of the stakeholders in the electoral process. In the past few days we have met with the Secretaries-General of the political parties, PAC – the Public Affairs Committee – Civil Society Organizations, and election observer groups.


To all of these groups I must extend my sincere gratitude for their commitment and support to the Commission as we have all wrestled with these issues. Our advice to these stakeholders is that it is not feasible for the Commission to conduct a full recount within the period available to it, and if it were possible, a Court order would be required to extend the period for announcement of results.


Malawians are a law abiding people. We are known as the warm heart of Africa. The commitment of all Presidential candidates through the Lilongwe Peace Declaration confirms these sentiments.


The Commission is preparing to announce its determination of the results of these elections on Friday, 30 May, or as the Court may direct.


Thank you. 


It is during this time that the voting public came to know that President Banda was panicking at the New State House. The president, hither to touted as a human being of sound mind, started issuing incomprehensible statements under the banner of the State House. 

One of these statements, issued on 27th May, 2014, went thus:

THE STATE OF 2014 TRIPARTITE ELECTIONS IN MALAWI AS OF TUESDAY 27TH MAY 2014

FROM THE STATE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE

Political developments in the past few days have been challenging to Malawians and have put to test the country’s democracy and governance institutions. These developments, however, have to be put into context.



Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda has always been committed to issues of democracy, good governance and transparent Government since her accession to the Presidency on 7th
April 2012. The President pursued an inclusive, open and participatory Government that respected the Constitution and the rule of law. The same spirit has been demonstrated in the run-up to the elections, when she levelled the political playing field to all
political parties. The President and her Government has managed to heal the country from previous tension and divisions; recovered the economy from near collapse and laid strong foundation for sustainable growth.


The President opened up the public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to all political players; she did not use the state machinery at her disposal to block, interfere, threaten or ban political activities of all contesting parties as has been the trend since 1994.


Malawians ought to remember that previous administrations used District Commissioners and Police to achieve these unacceptable acts. Even though some opposition parties instigated political violence in some instances, Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda always urged her supporters to remain calm and refrain from violence. As a matter of ensuring that the Tripartite Elections were credible, she consulted all major political
stakeholders in constituting the Malawi Electoral Commission. Indeed, the Electoral Commission is inclusive of all major political parties that were represented in Parliament.


During her two-year tenure of office, Dr Joyce Banda ensured that Malawi should be and it really is among the most media friendly countries in Africa where freedom of expression is not suppressed. Reputable international commentators have named Malawi as the most media friendly country in Africa.


Prior to the polling date, some opposition elements and some ill-willed commentators propagated in the media that Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda and her People’s Party (PP) were planning to rig the elections.


However, in a meeting with the Faith Community Leaders, Her Excellency emphasized that neither PP nor her government had any intention to rig the elections. However, those propagating this were in fact trying to drive people’s attention away from their own evil intentions to rig the elections by creating a false impression that the ruling party was planning to rig the elections.


Under Her Excellency’s leadership, the country experienced peaceful voting though with some instances where polling materials were not delivered on time or inadequate. In other cases, wrong materials were delivered. This led to some isolated cases of violence in some parts of Blantyre and Lilongwe, for example, which in turn led to voting being extended to next two days.


Notwithstanding that voting was continuing for the next two days in some polling centres, the media accredited by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) continued to announce the unofficial results while voting was still progressing in the said affected areas. Although many stakeholders demanded that official broadcasters stop announcing the unofficial results while voting was still on-going, announcements continued nevertheless.


There have been reports that some monitors in some polling centres were chased by police and MEC officials, mainly teachers and police officers, even before sealing of ballot papers while in other cases a systematic pattern was emerging that polling staff were influencing voters to vote for certain candidates. These polling officers, mainly teachers and police officers, have now been exposed some of whom have confessed that they were induced with monetary rewards by a certain Presidential candidate.


With the foregoing in mind, it was not surprising when revelations of serious
irregularities started emerging; these irregularities had mostly four (4)
patterns.


1)Tallies from some constituencies were deliberately altered where figures were inflated to favour certain candidates as in Machinga North East where 38,778 registered voters were recorded while the tally was purposely inflated to purport that 184,223 had voted, figures inflated in favour of a particular candidate; (evidence
available);


2)Tallies from polling centres where figures were deliberately erased, tippexed, configured and accordingly adjusted to favour certain candidates, (evidence available);


3)Purported locally printed ballot papers without security features were pre-marked for a certain candidate and staffed in washing baskets, plastic pails and cartons and were ferried to polling centres while monitors were financially induced by polling officers to leave the polling centres while counting progressed. Most of these tallies were not signed and counter-signed by the monitors as required, (evidence available);


4)Some Presiding Officers from one polling centre signed for three different polling centres and in all cases, the figures for a certain candidate were almost the same.
As these challenges were becoming apparent, it was learnt that the Information Management System designed to manage elections results was hacked into and crushed.

The election stakeholders started raising alarm and the following were raised;

a) That announcing of the unofficial results be discontinued,

b) That the Electoral Commission embarks on manual counting and verification to address the irregularities as presented by electoral stakeholders.


To add to these voices, Her Excellency the President called upon Malawi Electoral Commission to recount the votes and address the irregularities that had been registered by the stakeholders.


The Malawi Electoral Commission Chairman rudely responded to these calls as “Cries of losers” and disregarded all the complaints as raised by political parties and other electoral stakeholders. Soon thereafter, wide revelations of rampant and serious irregularities in the electoral process started flooding the public domain.


It then became public knowledge that indeed the electoral process had been defrauded. Despite this public outcry and threats of violence from some political parties, the Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson was intransigent, insensitive and non-responsive to the unfolding events.


At this time, it became apparent that the Malawi Electoral Commission had lost control of their own process; were not able to provide leadership in announcement of results and had lost control of election data notwithstanding that accredited media were still announcing the unofficial results and that tension was brewing in the country.


At this point, Electoral Stakeholders including some Presidential candidates
approached the President, Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda to rise above politics and provide direction for the country. Hence, Her Excellency the President issued a Presidential Proclamation on Saturday 24th May 2014, four days after voting to nullify the electoral process due to serious irregularities that had emerged and the State President determined that fresh elections be held in 90 days. Her Excellency The State President used the powers vested in her, under Section 88 (2) to provide Executive
Direction in the interest of national unity and security.


The immediate reaction to this proclamation by certain sectors of the society who felt were going to benefit from the serious electoral irregularities was negative.


However, four hours after the proclamation, the Malawi Electoral Commission came public to address the nation admitting that the electoral process could indeed not be relied upon, and the electoral data could was not trustworthy and therefore could not provide a credible platform for announcement of results.


Secondly, the Commission requested the nation to give them an allowance of 30 days to physically verify the ballot papers and conduct the recount of the votes to remedy the many irregularities the Commission had come across.


This admission by the Commission vindicated the Presidential Proclamation that had just been issued and further comforted the public as it was now evident that the Commission had started listening and acting in the national interest.


In a similar show of support, one of the broadcasting houses that was accredited to announce the election results, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), five hours after the proclamation, went public retracting that the electoral results they were announcing were unverified, could not be relied upon hence should be disregarded.


It became evident that the Presidential Proclamation had calmed the citizens and it brought hope of a peaceful and credible resolution to the irregularities of the electoral process.


Despite the public excitement that this development brought to the nation, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and their network obtained three injunctions restraining Malawi Electoral Commission from proceeding with the recounting and verification exercise. Malawi Electoral Commission and Malawi Law Society also obtained injunctions against the President’s Proclamation.

These many injunctions brought confusion to the direction of the whole electoral process and demonstrated that the credibility of the electoral process had been destroyed leaving the expectations of Malawians heavily eroded.


After extensive public debate and Stakeholders’ consultations, Malawi Electoral Commission announced to the nation on 26th May 2014 that they are convinced that the data available could be relied upon and therefore will not announce the results of the elections until a full recount and verification had been done; they further announced that they will take 30 days to carry out this exercise. This announcement by the Commission brought comfort and relief to the Malawi populace that the call by Her
Excellency The President Dr Joyce Banda was now being heeded to.


Despite this new welcoming decision by Malawi Electoral Commission, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is still bent on frustrating this development which has been thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by Election Stakeholders and welcomed by the whole nation. The question in the people’s minds is why is the DPP still refusing the welcome development accepted by all stakeholders?

If indeed the DPP has won legitimately, why not wait for the audit process to finish so that they form the next government on a clean sheet? Reference can made to several commentaries and expert opinion some of which are attached.




EXPERT LEGAL OPINION


Legal View of a Private Practice Lawyer, Shepher Mumba of Golden & Law
"I have been reading the Constitution and the Parliamentary & Presidential Elections Act since yesterday and I do not find any provision preventing Malawi Election Commission (MEC) from conducting a recount of the votes. Amongst others, the function of MEC is to "determine electoral petitions and complaints related to the conduct of any elections" see s.76(2) of the Constitution. Further, s113 of the PPE states that "any complaint submitted in writing alleging any irregularity at any stage, if not satisfactorily resolved at a lower level of authority, shall be examined and decided on by the Commission and where the irregularity is confirmed the Commission shall take necessary action to correct the irregularity and the effects thereof" Recounting of votes is therefore within the functions and mandate of the MEC as provided by law.




Legal expert opinion by Bright Theu, legal expert at African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in The Gambia.


MEC has power to undertake vote recount

There is a notion which as I gather has been endorsed by the High Court to the effect that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has no power/mandate/competence to order and undertake a “recount of the votes”. Below I advance the view that this notion is wholly misinformed; based on a deliberate circumvention of clear legal provisions and trite principles of interpretation; based on faulty reasoning; and probably induced by personal interest in the outcome of the issue the nation is contending with.

I argue for the position that MEC has every mandate to “determine” the outcome of an election and to use all appropriate methods available at its disposal for that purpose. I am open to contrary views that are informed by sound reasoning and proper application of the relevant principles that bear on the issues, in the spirit of an organised dialogue and not aimless bubbling.

Theu: MEC has the mandate to undertake vote recount

Theu: MEC has the mandate to undertake vote recount


To begin with, MEC is established under section 75 of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. The duties, powers and functions of MEC are stipulated mainly under the Constitution (Constn), the Electoral Commission Act (ECA), and the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA). Among the duties, powers and functions of MEC, section 8(1)(m) of ECA empowers MEC to “TO TAKE MEASURES AND TO DO SUCH OTHER THINGS AS ARE NECESSARY FOR CONDUCTING FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS.”


Further, section 76(2)(c) of the Constitution sanctions that MEC shall, among other duties and functions, “DETERMINE ELECTORAL PETITIONS AND COMPLAINTS RELATED TO THE CONDUCT OF ANY ELECTIONS” (s.76(2)(c), Constn). The critical term “determine” which articulates the duty and the attendant power of MEC is not defined in the Constitution. In fact it need not be defined because it is a well-known term which simply means decide, rule, judge, issue a verdict on any issue submitted to a competent body for that purpose.


In other words, to determine is to examine or assess an issue or a complaint in terms of the evidence presented and the applicable law with a view to deriving the conclusion as to whether the complaint is valid or not. Where the complaint is found to be invalid, the natural result is that is it dismissed. Where on the other hand the complaint is determined to be valid, naturally and logically an effective remedial measure is taken or issued and this forms part of the determination.


Accordingly, to the extent that MEC has the duty and function of “determining” electoral petitions and complaints, it is perfectly competent to decide whether any complaint it has received is valid and if so it has the attendant power to take or issue an effective remedial measure. For purposes of an election (MEC’s business) an effective remedial measure is one that ensures that the result of an election is credible in the sense that all irregularities that would adulterate and impair the validity of the outcome of the election are removed or mitigated to a level that they are insignificant to the outcome.


The idea is to make sure as much as possible that the result of the election is nothing but the people’s choice. This is the only way of ensuring that the authority to govern Malawi is validly entrusted, and not fraudulently assumed by any individual or group of individuals – and this is the higher constitutional value that any process and any measure taken by MEC seeks or must seek to achieve.


Indeed the process of “determining” electoral petitions and complaints must uphold that higher value, without which we risk being governed by a group of individuals who purport to acquire the mandate to govern by fraud!


From the above, it should be beyond rational contention that MEC has the duty and function to “determine electoral petitions and complaints”(s.76(2)(c), Constn) which includes the attendant power to take effective remedial measures (s.8(1)(m), ECA) where a given complaint is determined to be valid and of such gravity as to affect the validity of the outcome.


Whether “recounting the votes” is among the range of effective remedial measures MEC can take is the second point I address, since it is this particular measure that some people deny MEC the competence to opt for, a denial the Court has erroneously endorsed!


Trite principle of justice would have it that where there is a wrong there must be some measure adopted to right the wrong.


In more exact terms, we say where there is a wrong there must be a remedy. It is a principle that commands judicial authority. No civilised mind would raise any serious contention against that principle. In the case of electoral complaints which have been determined to be valid and of sufficient gravity as to adulterate and impair the validity of the outcome of the election, the remedial measure must seek to remove that impairment, or mitigate it to an insignificant size.


An electoral outcome is impaired or adulterated if it results from a combination of circumstances which defeat the people’s true choice (se “A”) by instead fraudulently making choice “B” appear as the people’s choice. The remedial measure will be effective if it is capable of expunging all factors that contribute to the masking of any candidate (e.g. “B”) as the people’s choice.


The means or necessary measures of expunging or mitigating irregularities are neither expressly stipulated nor limited under the laws that govern MEC’s mandate. Indeed there is no provision which restricts the measures that MEC can adopt to remedy an irregularity.


Rather and interestingly, section 113 of the PPEA simply and broadly states that “any complaint submitted in writing alleging any irregularity at any stage, if not satisfactorily resolved at a lower level of authority, shall be examined and decided on by the Commission and WHERE THE IRREGULARITY IS CONFIRMED THE COMMISSION SHALL TAKE NECESSARY ACTION TO CORRECT THE IRREGULARITY AND THE EFFECTS THEREOF.” This is important to note because it entails that MEC has fairly wide latitude to determine and adopt the appropriate and effective measure where it finds a given complaint or petition to be valid and of significant proportion.


On this point, I gather that those who advance the view that MEC has no competence to order and undertake a recount draw that conclusion from section 114(4) of the PPEA. Section 114 deals with appeals against determinations of MEC on electoral petitions and complaints. The determination against which an appeal can be lodged to the High Court are those mandated under, among others, section 76(2)(c) of the Constitution and section 113 of the PPEA (quoted immediately above).


For purposes of reviewing the determinations of MEC, section 114(1) states that “an appeal shall lie to the High Court against a decision of [MEC] confirming or rejecting the existence of an irregularity At s.114(4), the PPEA MERELY provides that “the High Court shall have power to direct scrutiny and RECOUNTING of votes if it is satisfied, during proceedings on an election petition, that such scrutiny and recount are desirable.”


There are a few points to note on s.114(4) of the PPEA. Firstly, it does not exclusively arrogate to the High Court the power to direct a RECOUNT or scrutiny. Secondly, it should not take someone reading volumes on process philosophy to figure that the High Court’s power procedurally only comes into play on review of determinations of MEC.


MEC would have to make its own determinations first and it is these determinations that would be reviewed by the High Court upon which the High Court may then direct a RECOUNT, as one of the possible remedial measures which the Court may find desirable.


I repeat, there is nothing in s114(4) of PPEA that exclusively arrogates to the High Court the power to direct a recount, a thing the High Court can only do upon a review of the determination of MEC. Put differently, there is nothing in s114(4) of PPEA prohibiting MEC or limiting MEC’s wide latitude to TAKE NECESSARY ACTION TO CORRECT THE IRREGULARITY AND THE EFFECTS THEREOF (s.113, PPEA).


How the Court can find that MEC has no mandate to adopt as a necessary measure the recount of the votes or such other measures of scrutiny to correct the irregularities it confirms is unclear. For the Court to come to such a conclusion, it would have to deliberately ignore the above quoted provisions and deliberately stretch s114(4) of the PPEA to mean and only mean that it (the High Court) has the mandate to order a recount.


Even at the risk of an overkill, section 114(4) of PPEA does not restrict MEC’s power to take necessary action to correct irregularities and the effects thereof! Procedurally, what the Court can do under s114(4) of the PPEA only follows after what MEC will have done under s.113 of the PPEA among other provisions.


I wish to conclude by saying that in tackling the issues that beset us as a nation regarding the election, we must seek to uphold the profound principle that the authority to government Malawi must validly derive from the people of Malawi and genuinely vest in a group of individuals who are the peoples’ choice determined by real votes cast in favour such individuals and not by some fraudulent means that mask given candidates as the people’s choice. That is the higher constitutional value that we must seek to uphold.


With a mind that is clogged with immediate personal interests, it is not possible to perceive and conceive that higher constitutional value and seek to uphold it. So what informed the Court’s decision that MEC has no power to adopt a recount as a measure for correcting irregularities that it has confirmed to be valid and substantial? Let people of good conscience decide for themselves.


• Bright Theu is former Malawi Law Society (MLS) secretary general and a private practicing lawyer



OPINION BY AN UNKNOWN LAWYER QUOTED BY STATE HOUSE

Malawian incompetence has reached it's apotheosis in the organization of these elections. I expected there were going to be problems this being the first time we are having tripartite elections. But I anticipated the problems were gonna come from the large volumes of candidates and complaints etc. never from registration and actual polling. I would give this Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) 1 out of 10. The only thing they've done well, and I really think it's more a result of Joyce Banda's tolerance than MEC doing, is the better coverage of opposition parties in the public media since 1994 when access to these was free for all. Otherwise, there's been no election here. Where I went to observe polling there were no voting materials until 10, not even chairs. A young man seeing my ID accosted me when I arrived and asked me to tell him what he was to do. He was a poll worker but hadn't been trained. Around 11 o'clock attempts were made to commence voting. Only 3 of the 21 ballot boxes had seals. And these seals had no serial numbers. How does one ensure the integrity of the vote under those circumstances? Fortunately the voters protested. Further there was very little indelible ink which would mean that after some time either voting was going to be suspended or would be allowed to continue without evidence of voting. Lots of people who had voter registration cards were not on the voters roll and a parallel register was to be provided where their details would be recorded. Eventually after 4 hours of waiting I left for another centre. I found people rioting there and couldn't stay as I feared they might mistake me for a poll worker.



Malawi has, since 1993, on it's statute books the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act. Faute de mieux it is the operation manual for the electoral process. Life has been made easy. Follow it and MEC is home and dry. In my opinion, on polling day, none of its provisions was respected. Can you imagine voting is still happening in some centers till now? In some places voting closed at 11 and counting could only happen the following day. How can anyone trust the results declared in such an election when there were no seals on the ballot boxes and even where there were seals theses had no serial numbers? When I stopped communicating with MEC people last night, their IT system wasn't working. They hadn't received results yet. In short the owners of the electoral process itself are having to hear the results from radio like the rest of us. There have been reported cases of tampering with results sheets, poll officials campaigning for the DPP candidates etc. how can the whole system just die? On this day? This is a system that has worked pretty well since 1993. Can MEC determine the result on the basis of radio announcements? Of course not. Determination of the results is a meticulous legal process that involves counting the ballot papers according to law, tallying of the results, reconciliation of the ballot papers, resolution of complaints to the satisfaction of complainants etc.


So where to Malawi? Personally, my opinion is that these elections have been mired in so much intrigue that no right thinking member of this or any society can vouch for their integrity. They should therefore be declared null and void and MEC should start afresh. MEC should either resign or be dismissed and a new one appointed to manage the new process; if that's asking for too much then as a compromise, MEC should abandon its IT system and do a manual count of the results and especially recounting the ballot papers and allowing political parties to take part. Making sure that what's in the ballot box is what the declared result is.


The first option poses a constitutional crisis. The president's and parliament's mandate is over. How do we extend her rule? How will we amend section 67 of the constitution to allow a new election date to be appointed? How will the president dismiss the MEC and appoint a new one without parliament? Can we call the old parliament? I don't think so but I'm sure we may be able to find some provision under the General a Interpretation Act.





ISSUED BY
STATE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE
KAMUZU PALACE, LILONGWE
27TH MAY 2014


In the end, however, sanity prevailed. Malawians should remember that President Banda annulled the elections, and called for new elections within 30 days citing some ambiguous provisions in the Constitution. She she the Constitution mandated her to provide "Executive Leadership" and used the phrase 'Executive Leadership' to annul the elections because, she said, she was simply exercising that mandate.

In the confusion that ensured, British High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin, visited the tally Centre at Comesa Hall in Blantyre, where Malawi Electoral Commission staff had stopped working. The Tally Centre where Ken Msonda, People;s Party spokesperson, was shouting at delegates and Unandi Banda of National Elections Systems Trust nodded in agreement to what Msonda had said.

I happened to have been at the Tally Centre on May 24 when Msonda caused quiet a scene.


In the end, however, after all was said and done, the Malawi Electoral Commission announced results and observer missions released statements like the one below:

AFRICAN UNION ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION TO THE 20 MAY 2014TRIPARTITE ELECTIONS IN THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

AFRICAN UNION







PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

22 May 2014


INTRODUCTION



At the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Malawi and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, deployed an African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to the 20 May 2014 Tripartite Elections in Malawi.



The Mission is headed by His Excellency Sam Nujoma, the founding President of the Republic of Namibia. The Mission is comprised of 52 Observers, including10 Long Term Observers (LTOs) and 42 Short Term Observers (STOs). The observers were drawn from the Pan-African Parliament, African Ambassadors to the African Union, Election Management Bodies, Civil Society Organisations and experts from the following countries: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.



The Mission is supported by a technical team drawn from the AUC, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).



The AUEOM has a mandate to observe the 20 May 2014 Tripartite Elections in conformity with the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which entered into force on 15 February 2012. The AUEOM’s mandate is further strengthened by the AU/OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (AHG/Decl.1 (XXXVIII); the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions both adopted by the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State in July 2002; as well as other relevant regional and international benchmarks for election observation and the legal framework for the conduct of elections in the Republic of Malawi.



The observations and recommendations of the AUEOM are based on the principles and standards for the conduct of democratic elections as enshrined in the aforementioned AU instruments.



Cognisant of the fact that the tabulation of election results is on-going; the AUEOM hereby presents its preliminary assessment of the conduct of the elections up until the close of polling on 21 May 20141. A final report of the AUEOM’s assessment will be released within 3 months after the official announcement of the results.





OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY OF THE MISSION



In line with its mandate stipulated in the aforementioned AU instruments, the objective of the AUEOM is to make an independent, objective and impartial assessment of the May 2014 Tripartite Elections in Malawi.



To achieve its objective, the Mission undertook the following activities:




Deployment of a team of 10 Long Term Observers (LTOs) in Malawi since 12 April 2014 in the four regions covering 27 districts to assess the pre-election context. Since their arrival in the country, the LTOs consulted with the MEC, relevant government agencies, political parties and civil society groups to formulate their assessment of the pre-election context.



The AUEOM issued its interim assessment of the pre-election context at a press conference on 15 May 2014.The LTOs will remain on the ground in Malawi until 7 June 2014 and will continue to observe the post-election phase of the process.



The LTOs were joined by a team of Short Term Observers (STOs) on 12 May 2014. The STOs underwent an intensive 3-day orientation session during which they received briefings from a wide range of electoral stakeholders including MEC, the Media, civil society groups and election experts.



The AUEOM received a visit by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Her Excellency, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma from 14 to 16 May 2014 during which she consulted with the top leadership of political parties, MEC, candidates, and government officials.



The leadership of the AUEOM also held high-level consultations with electoral stakeholders. It coordinated its efforts with other international election observer groups in Malawi by hosting a pre-election coordination meeting. The AUEOM leadership also attended a post-election coordination meeting hosted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).



On 17 May 2014, STOs were deployed in 22 teams to all the regions of Malawi covering 174 constituencies in 24 districts. . During the period of deployment, observers held further consultations with electoral stakeholders at district and constituency levels, observed the final campaigns and the distribution of electoral materials.



On Election Day, AU observers visited 262 polling stations to observe Election Day procedures.





PRELIMINARY FINDINGS




General political context

The pre-election context was generally peaceful and open to political competition with isolated incidents of protests by party supporters before and on Election Day2.



The AUEOM commends candidates and their supporters for their peaceful conduct in the run-up to the elections and encourages them to continue in the same manner in the post-election period.



Legal and constitutional framework

The legal framework for elections in Malawi is governed by the Constitution of Malawi (as amended), relevant Acts of Parliament and Electoral Regulations issued by the MEC.



The AUEOM notes that in line with the principles enshrined in the AU/OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, the legal framework for the conduct of elections in Malawi guarantees the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens and recognizes the principles of separation of powers. It provides for the regular conduct of elections by universal adult suffrage; the establishment of an independent election management body; the adjudication of electoral disputes and procedures for constitution amendment.



The AUEOM notes with satisfaction the electoral reform initiatives undertaken ahead of the 2014 elections. These include:

The review in 2012 of the electoral laws to provide for the holding of Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections simultaneously;3
The review and adoption of the 2014 Electoral Code of Conducts for Political Parties and Candidates; and
The appointment of a new Electoral Commission in 2012 after a long period of transition, as well as the conduct of a new voters’ registration process.



The 2014 elections will restore functional local governance structures in Malawi as elections at this level were last held in 2002.



Electoral system

Elections in Malawi are conducted using a ‘simple-majority’ First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system. The AUEOM also notes that the playing field was also impacted by the nature of this electoral system in Malawi which provides for a simple majority victory. The AUEOM also notes that the electoral system currently does not provide for affirmative action for women’s representation.



Party and campaign financing

Section 40 (2)4 of the Malawi Constitution provides for state funding of parties represented in Parliament that won one-tenth of the national votes in the last national election.



For campaign purposes, Section 66 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act5allows parties and candidates to solicit for funds from individuals, non-governmental organisations and corporate entities. The law however,does not prescribe for disclosure of the sources of campaign finances;neither does it provide ceilings on expenditure. It is also important to note that the Electoral Commission is not mandated to audit party finances.



In line with internationally accepted standards and best practice for party and campaign finance regulation, an effective system to regulate party and campaign finance requires: a system of disclosure, limits on expenditure and monitoring of campaign and party finance.



Election Management:

The AUEOM recognizes the central role of MEC as a statutory body entrusted with the management of the electoral process in Malawi. The process of appointment of the current Commission is commended by political stakeholders as transparent and satisfactory.



With regard to its fiscal autonomy, the MEC is funded through the national budget and with technical support of international organisations such as the UNDP. In its preparations for the 2014 elections, the MEC was faced with delays in the budget approval and disbursement procedures.



Voter registration
A credible voter register is critical to the integrity of an election. The MEC conducted a voter registration exercise from 12 July to 18 December 2013. While the AUEOM notes that the registration exercise was not devoid of challenges including the necessity to revert to the use of Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system, the AUEOM commends the MEC for the successful conduct of the process. At the end of that process, 7,544,405 voters were registered which a marked 28.5% increase in the number of registered voters in the 2009 elections.



The AUEOM gathered from its consultations with stakeholders that the registration was conducted in a professional and transparent manner that was open to observation by party representatives and independent observers.



The MEC also conducted a verification exercise in three (3) phases, from 9 April to 5 May 2014. In its pre-election statement, the AUEOM noted that the 5-day period provided for verification per phase was quite limited and it noted the concerns of stakeholders about errors in the register. The AUEOM commends the steps taken by the MEC to further clean up the voter register which led to a final 7,470,806registered voters6. The AUEOM also notes the efforts made by MEC to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters who’s details may have been omitted in the electronic version of the register by providing the ‘Part A’ of the register which is the original voters list from the data capture process. The AUEOM however notes that the review of the register was done up until the week of the elections, thus raising concerns and speculations about the accuracy of the register.



The AUEOM gathered that the last minute review of the register delayed the distribution of the finalised register to political parties.



Gender and minority rights


The AUEOM commends MEC for the 20% reduction in nomination fees granted to female candidate. However, the statistics on nominated candidates for the 2014 elections shows that Malawi still falls short of the minimum of 30% representation of women in elective positions as stipulated in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 2003 AU Parity Principle and the SADC Gender Protocol. Specifically, in the 2014 elections, women constituted 18% of the total number of nominated candidates for parliamentary and local council elections.



The AUEOM commends the MEC for providing tactile ballots and voter education materials in braille for visually impaired voters.



Party nominations and campaigns

Candidates were required to submit documentation for their nomination over a 5-day period from 10 to 14 February 2014.



At the end of the nomination process, 12 presidential nomination applications were received, of which one candidate was declared by the MEC as ineligible to contest but this decision was overruled by the High Court7. A total of 1,285 candidates were nominated for the parliamentary elections and 2,411 candidates were nominated for the Local Council Elections.



The death of some candidates before Election Day necessitated the cancellation of elections in one (1) constituency8and two (2) wards respectively.



Official campaigns began on 21 March and ended on 18 May 2014. The campaigns were relatively peaceful, in-spite of isolated incidents of violent confrontations especially before the commencement of the official campaign period on 21 March. Such incidents occurred in some places like Thyolo, Rumphi,9Nkhata-Bay Central10 and Karonga as highlighted in the AUEOM pre-election statement. The AUEOM notes with satisfaction the compliance of all parties with the 48 hours period of campaign-silence as required by the law.



The media

The important role of the media in an election cannot be overemphasised. There has been extensive media coverage of the election preparations. The media have provided in-depth coverage of processes and institutional arrangements of the elections by MEC, political parties and candidates.



The AUEOM gathered that in comparison with previous elections, the public broadcaster has been relatively more open in its coverage of opposition parties and candidates. It is acknowledged by many interlocutors, and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) that the media coverage of campaigns and political events was for the greater part of the campaign period skewed in favour of the incumbent to the disadvantage of other parties. The AUEOM however, notes the steps taken by MBC in redressing the imbalance in media coverage following the intervention of MEC and MACRA.



The AUEOM also notes with satisfaction the live national coverage of the presidential candidates’ debates hosted during the campaigns.



Civic and voter education

Malawians voted in a Tripartite Election for the first time on 20 May 2014. With the introduction of new tripartite voting procedures, the conduct of voter education was a crucial aspect of the electoral process.



One of the functions of the MEC is the conduct of voter education. The AUEOM noted that the coverage of the Commission’s efforts in this regard were insufficient, though complemented by civil society efforts.



National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) was the leading institution in the conduct of voter education programmes for the 2014 elections due to limited funding for other civil society organisations. The AUEOM in its consultations with stakeholders was informed of the limited coverage of the voter education programmes as it was left to very few institutions.



Preparedness of MEC
The AUEOM commends the MEC for the increased transparency of the electoral process in Malawi. Specifically, the establishment of the National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF), a platform for multi-stakeholder engagement of the electoral process. The AUEOM also notes the role of the Multi-Party Liaison Committees (MPLCs) in opening up the political space and promoting the culture of inter-party dialogue.



The AUEOM gathered from its consultations with MEC that it recruited election personnel who were trained up until the week before Election Day. In view of the increased number of voters and the anticipated length of time required for voting in three elections simultaneously, the Commission established 4,445 Polling Centres with 11,624 Polling Streams restricted to a maximum of 800 voters per polling stream. Tally centres were established at district and national levels with a clearly mapped out plan for results management. The AUEOM was present at MEC’s presentation of its results management system.



Going by the logistical and operational challenges experienced on Election Day the AUEOM notes that there were gaps in the planning and implementation processes for the 2014 elections.



In the days before the elections, AU observers were granted access to observe the distribution of non-sensitive election materials at district and constituency levels. The AUEOM notes that the logistics for the distribution of these materials was timely and effective with the exception of some districts such as Nsanje11, Blantyre among others where materials did not arrive as scheduled.





ELECTION DAY FINDINGS

AU observers visited 262polling stations on Election Day to observe the opening, voting, closing and counting procedures in their areas of deployment. Below are their findings in this regard:



Opening the poll

Election Day began to a slow start in 23of the 25 polling centres where AU observers were present for the opening of the poll. The delayed opening was due to late delivery of election materials in most cases. In isolated cases, such as in the Eastern Region, delays were due to poor weather conditions. The Mission noted that some polling stations opened as late as 14:00 due to non-availability of essential materials.



We also note that logistical challenges with transportation of materials in time to the polling centres were experienced, but MEC was able to address these challenges to allow voting to start. The MEC allowed voting to continue in the evening to compensate for the time lost on account of the delays in opening the polls.



In the polling centres where voting was postponed until 21 May 2014, AU observers noted that the process commenced late as the election materials were again not delivered on time. For instance, this was the case at the Matope Centre and Ndirande Community Hall. In other centres such as Namalimwe School where elections materials were destroyed on Election Day, polling was once again delayed due to non-availability of materials.



Election materials

Besides the late delivery of election materials, the AUEOM also noted that there were further challenges with the quantity and quality of election materials after they were delivered. These include:

Shortage in the supply of ballot boxes in some stations in Machinga District.

Interruption of the voting process in some polling stations due to shortage in supply of ballot papers. For instance in Monkey-Bay School, Nkisi School and St Augustine III polling centres in Mangochi.

Non-availability of the voter register at some polling stations such as Domasi Government School Polling station in Zomba.




Polling stations


Polling centres were located in public facilities which were easily accessible to all voters including the aged and persons with disability.



Most of the polling centres visited by AU observers were laid out in a manner that allowed easy flow of voters and guaranteed the secrecy of the ballot. The AUEOM however noted that some polling centres were overcrowded and the use of outdoor facilities without barrier demarcations made crowd control particularly difficult. This was noted at polling centres such as Blantyre Secondary School.



Election personnel

AUEOM observed with satisfaction the efforts of election personnel to manage the operational challenges experienced on Election Day. The AUEOM further commends election officials for consistently applying stipulated procedures throughout the voting process.



The mission also noted that 43% of election personnel in the polling stations visited were women.



Independent observers and party and candidate agents

AU observers noted the presence of independent citizen observers at most polling stations visited. Party and candidate agents were also present and they were able to conduct their duties without inhibition or interference.



The AUEOM noted that 35% of polling agents and 29% of citizen observers encountered were women. The AUEOM commends these efforts to ensure the participation of women at different levels.



Voting procedures

The AUEOM noted that voting was generally conducted in compliance with procedures stipulated in the legal framework.



The voting procedures were simple and easily understood by voters although the procedures were not time effective. AU observers noted that the time required to process each voter was lengthy.



The AUEOM also noted that priority was given only to aged voters and voters requiring assistance such as persons with disability and unlettered voters. Such priority was however not extended to expectant mothers and women with infants in most polling centres visited. Voters requiring assistance were granted such assistance.





Closing the poll

An extension of voting hours was necessitated to remedy the delays experienced at the opening of the poll.



AU observers were present at the close of polls and also observed the counting at 24 polling centres. Observers noted that the counting took place in mostly poorly lit facilities.



The AUEOM also noted that counting procedures were not uniformlyapplied in all the stations visited. Specifically, election personnel in some stations did not undertake a thorough reconciliation of the ballot before counting, this led to challenges in the counting process.





Security

The visible presence of security personnel was observed by AU teams in all the stations visited. The observers noted however that the number of security personnel deployed per polling centre in comparison with the number of voters assigned to the polling centres, was inadequate for effective crowd control. This limited security coverage necessitated the deployment of the military to intervene in areas where violence was recorded, for instance in Blantyre.



An incident was reported of protests on the eve of Election Day in Lilongwe. The protest was over election materials found in an office which were suspected to be ballot papers but these turned out to be Transfer Forms. These materials were publicly burnt by MEC officials in the presence of stakeholders to calm down the situation.



On Election Day, there were reports of violent protests in some areas such as Blantyre at Makata, Kadere, Matope and Community Hall Polling Centres in Ndirande. Some materials were reportedly burnt by irate voters angered by late start of voting; this necessitated a postponement of voting till 21 May 2014.





RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on its observations and findings, the AUEOM makes the following recommendations:



The Government of Malawi should:
Support the MEC in delivering its mandate by ensuring adequate and timely approval and disbursement of the election budget.



The MEC should:
Revise and finalise the current voter register to reduce the cost of conducting a fresh registration exercise during the next elections. The AUEOM also calls on the relevant government departments to cooperate with MEC to ensure that registered deaths are taken off the register and the register is reviewed on a continuous basis. The continuous review of the register in this regard will contribute to the credibility of the register for the next elections.

The AUEOM further recommends that the verification of the register should be done in a timely manner ahead of Election Day and copies of the finalised register availed to political parties in ample time.

Sensitise election personnel on the need to comply with the guidelines on giving priority to expectant mothers and voters with infants in the voting process.

Intensify its voter education initiatives and collaborate with relevant government agencies and civil society groups.

Develop capacity building programmes for its staff



The parliament should:
Develop a plan of action for the implementation of the National Gender Policy and the Gender Equality Bill to create an enabling environment for the participation and representation of women in all levels of governance. This is inline with article 29 of the African Charter on, Democracy, Elections and Governance; the SADC Protocol on Gender and the AU Parity Principle enshrined in its Constitutive Act.


More specifically, the AUEOM urges the parliament to undertake reforms of the electoral framework to include special provisions for affirmative action for women’s representation.


Amend the legal framework to provide a timeframe within which election disputes should be resolved. This will ensure timely dispensation of electoral justice.


Amend the legal framework to provide funding to parties represented in Parliament on equal basis. This is in line with article G of section III of the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa.


Amend the legal framework to provide clear guidelines on party and campaign financing that will mandate parties to disclose their sources of funding, provide ceilings on campaign expenditure and mandate an independent institution to supervise party financing. This will protect the electoral process from the undue influence of money in politics.



The security agencies should:
Ensure adequate security of the elections, by developing a coordinating mechanism that will enable the MEC and security agencies to harmonise their planning and deployment efforts. This will ensure that the appropriate ratio of security personnel per voting centre is deployed.



CONCLUSION

While the tabulation of election results is ongoing, the AUEOM hereby concludes that the 2014 elections provided an opportunity for Malawians to choose their leaders at the polls. The elections were conducted in a largely transparent manner in accordance to the legal framework of Malawi and international standards.



The AUEOM also calls on electoral stakeholders to continue in the peaceful and orderly manner that characterised the pre-election context. We urge parties and candidates to seek redress for disputes that may arise from these elections through the legal systems provided.


1. Polling was postponed until 21 May 2014 in 45 polling centres (36 centres in Blantyre, 6 centres in Dedza and 3 centres in Lilongwe in Central Region). AU observers were present at these centres. LTOs will remain on the ground to observe polling in centres that were further postponed.


2. The reported incident of minor protests in Blantyre by irate voters over delays in the opening of polling centres in Ndirande, Kadere and Community Hall polling centres.


3. The 2014 elections are referred to as tripartite, as this is the first time the three elections will be simultaneously conducted.


4.“the state shall provide funds so as to ensure that, during the life of parliament, any political party which secured more than one-tenth of the national vote in elections to that Parliament has sufficient funds to continue to represent its constituency.”


5. “Every political party may, for the purpose of financing its campaign, appeal for and receive voluntary contributions from any individual or any non-governmental organisation or other private organisation in or outside Malawi.”


6. This reduced the initial figure by 66,742 voters on account of some errors in the provisional voters’ roll.


7. Professor John Chisi of the Umodzi Party (UP) was barred from contesting on the basis of Section 80 (7) (e) of the Constitution which stipulates that ‘No person shall be eligible for nomination as a candidate for election as President or First Vice-President or for appointment as First Vice-President or Second Vice-President if that person- (e) is a holder of a public office or a member of Parliament, unless that person first resigns;


8. MCP Parliamentary candidate for Blantyre North Constituency died during the campaign period.


9. The DPP representative on the MPLC for the Rumpi District formally presented a complaint to the MPLC that the Police were reluctant to take action against ruling party supporters who severely beat up and assaulted a DPP supporter during physical clashes over campaign venue.


10. Between supporters of AFORD and DPP.


11.In Nsanje district of Southern Region, divers hired by MEC boycotted transporting materials demanding payment as they were not sure that MEC would honour its promise of paying them their allowances at a later date.


12.‘Ensure the availability of adequate logistics and resources forcarrying out democratic elections, as well as ensure thatadequate provision of funding for all registered politicalparties to enable them organise their work, includingparticipation in electoral process.’

The short of it all is that, on May 30, 2014, a new president- Peter Mutharika of the DPP- was sworn in, and Saulos Chilima became his vice.

Banda had been pushed away from the limelight as Malawians wait for the 2019 elections.

As 2015 peeps through the walls of 2014, Malawians wonder whether the Tripartite Elections would rather be forgotten, or that the nation should grow from there. Time will tell.