Malawians have the sovereign right to choose leaders of their choice without any undue influence from any quarters. We are a sovereign, independent country and our national processes should remain firm in the hands and control of Malawians. We brook no interference whatsoever, however and from whomever whether tacit or by invitation beyond assisting our country meet her democratic obligations under our laws. We make no apology for this just and sanctified stance.
Revelations by a Zimbabwean independent weekly The Zimbabwe Independent in its edition of last week that the Joyce Banda administration has roped in shadowy Israeli security company NIKUV Projects and Zimbabwe’s dreaded spy agency the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to assist our Home Affairs ministry to undertake voter registration should be viewed in grave light and viewed as an affront to the sovereignty of our country.
There is everything wrong with these two organizations discredited both in their homelands and internationally and their meddling in our national affairs is totally unwarranted and a cause for great concern especially at the behest of a sitting president sworn to uphold and protect the sovereignty of our motherland Malawi. Joyce Banda and her People’s Party (PP) owe this nation a lot of answers in light of this exposé.
It is common knowledge NIKUV has been embroiled in scandal after scandal in many countries without cessation. Their escapades in Nigeria are well documented where they failed to perform their contracts while in the SADC region they have worked in Zambia where they were hired to prepare the Zambian voters roll for the 1996 parliamentary and presidential elections.
The roll was so chaotic – resulting in many people being swopped constituencies while others were totally omitted from the roll. The Zambian opposition did not just sit phwii but rejected the voters roll resulting in a new and acceptable voters roll prepared by other players. In Lesotho, their Directors were recently arrested by that country’s Anti-corruption unit the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) after they are accused of paying bribes amounting to US$3.4million to win a multi-million dollar identity documents tender.
As recent as last month, NIKUV is smarting from a fresh scandal in Zimbabwe and is at the centre of the rigging allegations in the just ended elections which saw Robert Mugabe unconvincingly amass 61% of the vote. From court records gleaned in Zimbabwe over US$10 million was paid to NIKUV to facilitate the rigging of the recent election. That the election was stolen is now a foregone conclusion given that the opposition has compiled a comprehensive dossier detailing the shenanigans of NIKUV working hand in glove with Mugabe’s dreaded intelligence organization the CIO to produce a skewed result in favor of Robert Mugabe.
The mechanics of the rigging lay with the manipulation of the voter registration, production of the voters roll or register and the production of the actual voting results.
The CIO is Mugabe’s suppression outfit used to cow Zimbabweans and has been at the centre of murders of opposition figures and directs elections in that country that has seen Mugabe become a life president as he rigs election after election.
To hear that these two organizations are assisting the Malawian government in the ongoing voter registration exercise is therefore a great cause for concern and henceforth our opposition should pose hard questions and demand clear answers from Joyce Banda as to the role of these two organizations in our national electoral processes.
An immediate suspension of the voter exercise is the starting point while our opposition demands a commission of inquiry be established by our parliament to investigate the involvement of these two organizations in our country’s internal affairs.
The commission should ascertain why the process competently undertaken by Malawians all along since our democratization in 1993 suddenly warrants bringing in of outsiders to run at a colossal financial outlay to our fiscus.
Our Minister of Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume is quoted as having told the Zimbabwe Independent that Malawi Home Affairs officials have been in and out of Zimbabwe to receive computer training on a new voter registration system. Why are Malawians, the nation at large not aware of this new system? Why is our opposition fraternity not aware of this new system? What happened and what is wrong with the old system used as recent as in the 2009 plebiscite? Why was there no open tendering to source the new system? If there was, who participated and what criterion was used to settle for NIKUV and the Zimbabwe spy agency? Were any serious considerations made on the integrity of the supplier NIKUV Projects and the Zimbabwe spy agency? How much is it costing this country and who is paying the millions of dollars to these two organizations?
These are hard questions that beg answers which the commission should establish on behalf of Malawians.
We are very much aware Joyce Banda’s has been cosying up to Robert Mugabe lately during her state visit to Zimbabwe and her underhand dealings to legitimize Mugabe’s stolen election at the just ended SADC Summit in Lilongwe. It maybe very much be payback time for Robert Mugabe to repay Joyce Banda’s help hence he has lined up this rigging machinery to come to her aid in the coming elections next year.
We have seen the problems bedeviling the current voter exercise in the country – a carbon replica of the problems encountered in Zimbabwe in the just ended election – which might as well be a result of the intervention of NIKUV and the CIO in the whole process.
Like in Zimbabwe, in Malawi there is a deliberate disenfranchisement of voters in opposition strongholds while voters in PP’s strongholds are registered with ease. This modus operandi was used by Mugabe who denied over a million urban voters the chance to register while voters in his rural strongholds were registered with ease. In Zimbabwe, in the cities it took registration officers a frustrating 15-25 minutes to register one person while in the rural areas voters only took under 3 minutes to get registered and return to their homes. Rural constituencies in Zimbabwe had adequate voter registration centres and material while urban centres were given one centre which was starved of voting materials.
In Malawi there is an upsurge in cases of fake voter registration certificates in some parts of the country. Similarly, in Zimbabwe Zanu PF candidates had unfettered access to thousands of voter registration certificates which they distributed in their strongholds to boost numbers for their candidates.
There was the issue of the voting ink where voters in Zanu PF strongholds were given diluted or weak ink which easily washed off with petrol affording Zanu PF supporters multiple voting chances while urban centres had a concentrated version of the same. The absence of ultra-violet detectors to test fingers for the indelible ink in polling centres fitted snugly in the rigging ploy as polling officers relied on the naked eye to check for indelible ink.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) at the benevolence of the Chinese government were given thousands of High Frequency (HF) police radios used to relay information regards number of voters that had voted per ward, numbers turned away all relayed to a centralised command centre ostensibly run by NIKUV who would then use that information to manipulate the voter registry and the results in favor of Mugabe and Zanu PF.
A lot of ghost registration centres or wards were established in the constituencies where ballot boxes were stuffed with thousands pre-voted ballots in favor of Zanu PF and Mugabe using voter registration slips which were freely available to Zanu PF candidates.
Details of one voter would be replicated in several other constituencies to boost numbers and subsequently have that persons vote stuffed in these ghost polling centres.
The list of crude tactics used by Mugabe and NIKUV is endless.
Our opposition thus should not sheepishly be led to the altar of political slaughter by Joyce Banda, NIKUV and Mugabe’s CIO when they can do something now to stop these shennanigans. They should give political leadership to their followers and stop any interference from these quarters in what is entirely a national process, a preserve for Malawians.
They should demand answers as to the involvement of these two organizations in our national processes and further demand the cessation forthwith of their involvement in our national political processes otherwise boycott the coming elections and let Joyce Banda run by herself.
Further, and specifically they should demand at the very minimal the following:-
- the unbridled independence of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in delivering a free and fair election in 2014 devoid of any interference from any quarters be it government or the PP party;
- Demand the withdrawal of NIKUV, Zimbabwe’s CIO and Home Affairs ministry personnel in all facets of MEC operations;
- an independent commission of inquiry to assess the activities of MEC, the ongoing voter registration and the involvement of NIKUV and Zimbabwe’s spy agency in the forthcoming election;
- an immediate reinstatement and return to the old registration system used in 2009 until such a time that MEC proffers justification for a new system to undertake voter registration;
- demand that MEC produce detailed voter registration figures for each ward and constituency throughout the country information which should wallow in the public domain;
- demand the final voters roll – foremost in electronic form and subsequently in print form to be initialed by all presidential aspirants and parliamentary candidates – 6 months prior to the election failing which they should not participate in polls shrouded in secrecy;
- In addition to using indelible ink, MEC should introduce a nipping gadget like a perforating stapler machine like the one used to nip bus tickets so that voter certificates once nipped can no longer be usable in any other polling centres. Multiple registrations will be picked out by analyzing the electronic version of the voters roll;
- all police details be kept a safe distant away from the polling centres with the sole mandate to maintain peace and tranquility during voting;
- NGOs and observers be allowed as has always been the norm to run parallel tally centres to promote credibility with result announcements the sole responsibility of the MEC Chairperson.
As Malawians we loath any interference in our political affairs by whosoever and for whatsoever reasons beyond impartially assisting our country meet its obligations towards nurturing her democracy.
If Mugabe has demanded of foreigners to stay out of the affairs of Zimbabwe he should do the same and stop interfering in Malawi’s internal affairs. We know his spy agency the CIO has a base in Malawi established in the days of Bingu wa Mutharika with some operatives operating from the Zimbabwe High Commission building at the City Centre in Lilongwe masquerading as Passport Officers and Visa Officers in the High Commission. Our State President Joyce Banda is very much in the know about these spooks right from her time as Deputy President under the Bingu wa Mutharika administration and she should do the right thing and send these people packing.
As for the Americans and British, they should not demand democracy where their interests are threatened and turn a blind eye when it suits them. NIKUV Project enjoys good relations with Mossad the Israeli Intelligence Organisation and cosy US and Israeli relations are all but common knowledge. Millions of US Dollars are channeled to NIKUV and transactions facilitated by none other than the British and American banking system. These two countries cannot feign ignorance on the activities of NIKUV given they have enough intelligence world over to see and know the activities of NIKUV. They should sanction any funds and stand up to the Israelis where they seek to frustrate democratic political processes even in small inconsequential countries like Malawi.
Lastly, Joyce Banda needs to be told in no uncertain terms that she risks putting Malawi on fire with her underhand dealings with Mugabe and NIKUV. Malawians will not stand idle whilst anyone robs us of our sovereign right to determine leadership of this country.
Malawi is not Zimbabwe and Malawians are not a docile lot like Zimbabweans and we will act where our rights are trampled on.
Kamuzu Banda went against all intents to hang in for life, Bakili Muluzi went despite attempts to perpetuate his stay in power, and we stood up against Bingu wa Mutharika when he trampled on our rights and freedoms and we shall surely stand up against her administration should she attempt to rob us of our sovereign right to choose our own leadership, no matter what it takes.
Malawi is for Malawians, we will determine our own leadership. We brook no interference from any quarters and we make no apology for that stance. NIKUV and the CIO should exit our political constituency and leave us to freely determine who will lead this country in 2014.
Majoti Chimuzanga is a concerned Malawian and writes in his personal capacity. He can be contacted on [email protected]