Malawi’s ‘electoral outcome’ threatens a crisis - CNBC Africa

Malawi’s ‘electoral outcome’ threatens a crisis

Southern Africa

by Trust Matsilele 0

Malawi’s could slide to an unprecedented crisis under Joyce Banda's watch. PHOTO: JoyceBanda.org

Incumbent President Joyce Banda, Democratic People’s Party (DPP) Peter Mutharika, Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera and United Democratic Front’s (UDF) Atupele Muluzi were leading contenders in a flooded ballot.

(READ MORE: Malawi electoral outcome for the reform agenda)

The country’s plebiscite also elected local government officials and members of the legislative assembly with one losing member of parliament and former deputy minister, Godfrey Kamanya being reported to have committed suicide after losing in the polls.

A week later, results are still pending with allegations of rigging and manipulation coming from all sides.

However, exit polls show that either DPP’s Peter Mutharika or MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera will win the polls with the incumbent unlikely to retain the position.

Some of the irregularities are striking with an example of a constituency with 38,000 people eligible to vote having produced in excess of 184,000 votes cast. Another example, Nchisi East having produced similar trends of manifest manipulation of the electoral outcome.

This centre (Nchisi East) had eligible 17,009 votes but the total number of votes cast was way above that with 17,224. This could be an indication of how shamble this election could turn out to be and the question that remains is if such a process can produce a credible leadership.

Tapera Kapuya, a political analyst with the Africa Democracy Forum noted the need for strengthening institutions as to ensure democracy in the region.

“In the main, there is a case for the need to strengthen institutional capacity of electoral bodies to independently discharge of their responsibilities to conduct and manage democratic elections,” Kapuya told CNBC Africa.com.

“What we are seeing in Malawi is unfortunate given the advances the country has made in its democratic development. This election if not managed properly might see the country regress into conflict.”

“What's clear on the ground is that the incumbent has lost and can only salvage her credibility by how she manages to allow for a transition to take place and pass on power to those who have earned the legitimacy to govern,” he added.

The Malawian President ordered the Malawi Electoral Commission to stop the counting saying the electoral process had been marred with manipulation, rigging and inconsistencies making the outcome subject to contestation.

The brewing political crisis in the country was worsened few days ago when President Joyce Banda ‘nullified’ the results and called for new polls she would not participate in within 90 days.

(READ MORE: Malawi president orders election re-run, will not be candidate)

Her call was reversed by the high court driving the country into a political vacuum and constitutional crisis.

Of course this is not the first country in the region to keep its citizens in the dark regarding election outcome as Zimbabwe went for more than five weeks in 2008 without announcing results after President Robert Mugabe lost to arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T.

Malawi’s rumoured leading candidate according to exit polls, Peter Mutharika is reported to have agreed to a vote recount after heated exchanges with MEC.

He argues that security of the ballot boxes and votes is questionable.

According to the MEC’s Emmanuel Chimkwita, 42 stations will be audited and manual counting will be conducted, depending with the outcome and response across political divide the country might be headed to another election or a surprise winner.

The date for recount of those stations is yet to be announced which further casts doubt on the likely date of when the victor will be known.

At the time of writing, unconfirmed reports suggested that the country’s president was ready to hand over power to the military, an assertion a senior administration reached for comment dismissed as ‘something next to theatre’.

The rumoured reports shows that the country is in some power vacuum and easy victim to manipulation by any interested parties.

The decree by the president and dismissal by the court also presents the southern African country with possibility of a constitutional crisis that might deteriorate into a reminiscent of an Arab Spring street protests.

The European Union has urged all participating political formations to observe electoral processes and allow the body to conclude the process.

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