Going by our exclusive stories on the audit conducted earlier this year at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC); a lot, most of it grubby, has been happening at this institution.
This is irritating because MEC is, without doubt, the most supreme watchdog over democracy in Malawi, mandated as it is with the sacred duty of safeguarding our democracy through the periodic conduct of free and fair elections.
MEC’s duty is sacred for several reasons. First and foremost, poor management of elections has led to eruption of civil wars and bloodshed in various countries. We will not cite examples.
Now, an institution which holds the fate of a country and lives of a nation at one point or another is one that obviously has a critical role.
This means that such an institution should operate in manner that inspires confidence at all times, in all its dealings and its operations and should stand scrutiny – if not hold the gold standard – with respect to transparency and accountability.
Secondly, looking at history or better still, if we borrow the overused ‘Malawi is a God fearing country’cliché and wax Biblical, the sacredness of the role of MEC becomes even clearer.
We read in the Holy Bible and even in the Holy Quran of one Samuel. Samuel was a man chosen for God, from his miraculous birth until his death. He served in several important positions during his life, earning God’s favour because he knew how to obey.
Samuel’s story began with a barren woman, Hannah, praying to God for a child. The Bible says “the Lord remembered her,” and she became pregnant.
She named the baby Samuel, which means “the Lord hears.” When the boy was weaned, Hannah presented him to God at Shiloh, in the care of Eli the high priest.
Samuel grew in wisdom and became a prophet. Following a great Philistine victory over the Israelites, Samuel became a judge and rallied the nation against the Philistines at Mizpah. He established his house at Ramah, riding a circuit to various cities where he settled the people’s disputes.
Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abijah, who had been delegated to follow him as judges, were corrupt, so the people demanded a king.
And it came to pass that Samuel listened to God and anointed the first king of Israel, a tall, handsome Benjaminite named Saul. When Saul angered the Lord, Saul anointed King David, one of the seven sons of Jesse. The rest is history.
Now, imagine that Samuel was a character who double-claimed allowances, bought public donkeys in a manner that lacked transparency, and could not account for public resources. Would anyone have taken him seriously?
MEC is the king-maker in Malawi and if Malawians are to accept and respect the leaders that claim victory after processes managed by MEC, MEC ought to be the most transparent, trustworthy and accountable institution in Malawi.
Going by the report of the Central Internal Audit Unit (CIAU), MEC has been desperately found wanting.
We will not repeat what the articles have already summarized suffice to say that typical of a fish’s decaying from the top; Justice Maxon Mbendera, the MEC Chairperson, apparently made his own rules and sold a public car at a giveaway price to himself.
This is something that Samuel would obviously have frowned upon. And check this: Samuel’s own sons were passed over as Judges because of such corrupt behaviours.
Coming to Willie Kalonga, the Chief Elections Officer, according to the audit report, he has also been up to his neck plundering MEC resources.
And again, some commissioners are implicated and were partaking the looting jamboree at this time when millions of Malawians will, according to the State President, face starvation.
This is to say the least, a national disgrace.
In civilized countries, Justice Maxon Mbendera, the Chairperson; Willie Kalonga, the Chief Elections Officer, and the Commissioners would have honourably resigned. But Malawi being what it is, they are claiming to be “innocent”. If these guys are innocent, then Oswald Lutepo deserves a sainthood!
Look at it from this perspective: MEC leadership despite knowing that public resources are subjected to rigorous audits, went on to steal and loot. Now what do these characters do with our votes, which as you know are not audited at all? God forbid!
To conclude, because an electoral commission inundated with compromised characters is one that cannot be trusted to conduct free and fair elections, we at the Nyasa Times, demand the commission’s immediate dissolution and that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) should seal MEC and dig deeper because, an audit being an audit, the findings might just be the tip of an iceberg.
Failure to do this means that we are not serious about democracy and peace in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :