There were always three road blocks standing in the way of a fresh election.The first roadblock was in the Judiciary. The case for nullification had to be proven with the kind of evidence the Court would deem admissable and so overwhelming as to pass the judicial test for a balance of probabilities. Chilima and Chakwera did this, with great industry and fortitude against formidable opponents and odds, a patriotic feat the likes of which should be remembered for a hundred years by a grateful nation. As a result, the Court was persuaded to declare the 2019 elections null and void and to order a fresh election, thus lifting the first obstacle to a fresh and credible election. But this alone was never going to be enough to guarantee that such an election would happen.
A second obstacle had to be removed in the Legislature. Though the court had called for a fresh election, and also ruled that the Constitution demands that its winner must win over half of the votes, there was no legal provisions for such an election, and so Parliament needed to pass new laws to regulate such an election. Opposition MPs did this, banding together across parties to form the needed majority to pass the bills, doing so against great resistance from the governing party, thus lifting the legislative obstacle standing in the way of a fresh and credible election, for which we owe them our debt. But this was never going to be enough to guarantee that such an election would happen.
A third obstacle now stands in the way of a fresh and credible election, and that obstacle is in the Executive. The new electoral legislation passed by Parliament needs to be signed into law by President Mutharika, and he has not done it. The recommendations of Parliament to fire the discredited MEC Commissioners also need to be adopted by President Mutharika, and he has not done it. The parties need to submit names of new Commissioners to President Mutharika for appointment, and he is far from doing this. Until President Mutharika does these three things, there can be no new MEC, nor can that new MEC’s new CEO fire thousands of presiding officials who messed up the last election, nor can the new CEO hire and train thousands of new staff, nor can the new CEO procure election materials worth billions, nor can the new MEC register millions of new voters. All of this needs to be done in time to hold a fresh and credible election in less than 75 days, and yet none of it has begun nor can begin until President Mutharika’s Executive does the three things needed to lift the third and final obstacle to a fresh and credible election. Every day that passes without him feeling the urgency and pressure to get that done, he is given impunity to obstruct the Judiciary and the Legislature.
We cannot afford to let one man’s Executive desk to filibuster the path the Judiciary and Legislature have hewn for a fresh and credible election. But that is precisely what he is doing, and so the discredited MEC and Jane Ashah feel emboldened to be holding planning meetings for the fresh elections instead of getting out of the way so that a more competent MEC can be appointed to do the job. It is obstruction.
And what are we as citizens doing about this imminent threat?
Who will stand up against formidable odds to demand that this Executive obstacle be lifted?