Cries about the validity of an election are heard more often in third-world countries, places with authoritarian regimes lacking established democracies and fair checks and balances. However, such cries are always uttered during the counting of votes and after announcing the results.
But as Malawians are geared for the 2019 tripartite elections, different political parties and potential presidential candidates have already sounded an alarm of a possible election fraud. It is very interesting to see that the incumbent president Peter Mutharika and his estranged vice president Saulos Klaus Chilima who is in the presidential race on UTM ticket, are the ones magnifying the rigging claims.
While Chilima is bragging that there will be no rigging and branding ruling DPP as “afana”meaning amateurs in rigging, his boss Mutharika is so nervous.
President Mutharika last Sunday as he embarked on a whistle stop tour in Blantyre had this to say in an apparent reference to Chilima: “I understand some people are planning to rig election. They are bringing foreigners into the country to rig the election because they know they cannot win.
“Let me warn them! I’m watching you! I’m watching you! I’m watching you! When I’m ready, I will go after you. Planning rigging is a crime, and I will go after you big time. So you better stop that nonsense you are doing. Let people chose their leaders without any interference,” he said.
The president’s remark comes months after UTM leader who is also the country’s vice president, Saulos Chilima, said at political rallies that some people whom he too did not mention, are also planning to rig the election.
But will the 2019 election really be rigged?
The answer is no! The election will be fair and credible. The APM-Chilima tantrums should not scare Malawians. Remember, they were together on the ballot in 2014 general election, and in forthcoming election, they will be in opposite side. Malawians must be happy! Their split is a blessing in disguise considering that in the previous election it was widely rumoured that Chilima helped the DPP to rig election. Everyone knows pretty well how chaotic the election was. Now the two crooks are on opposite sides; does that not call for taking a sip of Castel beer? Cheers…
However, their rigging claims vindicate Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s assertions that the 2014 election was rigged against him. Remember, when the then president Joyce Banda, claimed there were “serious irregularities” with the poll, and called for fresh elections it was only DPP that categorically denied the move. To them, the election was fair and credible, yet even the late MEC chairperson Mackson Mbendera (may his soul rest in peace) could not manage to hold his tears when announcing the results of the chaotic election at the Comesa Hall.
APM and Chilima played a nasty game in 2014, but they failed to share the proceedings hence their split. This year’s election, they have no any moral ground to question the credibility of the electoral process. They better leave that assignment to MCP, UDF and other parties. Period!
Should Malawians be afraid of Peter Mutharika’s rigging claims?
Yes! Mutharika’s allegations are dangerous, not that they are real, but it is a threat to peaceful transition considering the stiffness of the race. To be clear, just a charge of a rigged election isn’t quite reason to panic. No matter the outcome, there will (as always) be some people — usually on the losing side — who doubt the outcomes of the election. But it becomes dangerous when such claims emanates from the incumbent president when the votes are not yet cast.
In Mutharika, following his rigging claims, we seea leader who is pathologically incapable of admitting defeat. This does not bode well for 2019 presidential elections considering that he is making such unfounded claims when the political terrain is neither in favour of the ruling DPP nor its offspring UTM. I fear that if Mutharika loses the election in 2019 (which is obvious) there will never be a peaceful transition of power. But when I think of what happened in 2012, I have total conviction that the standard that Army Commander Henry Odilo set, is still fresh in the minds of all ill minded people and DPP untouchables.
There will be no rigging in this year’s election. Mutharika knows what lies ahead of him. His rigging claims are a ploy to prepare his DPP thugs to disturb the proper transition of power after the 21st May elections. However, Malawians will teach this American that though democracy is not mature in our country, but violence does not exist in our vocabulary. He saw it in 2012, and he will see it in 2019.
Views expressed in this article are those of the author.