Lawyer drags Malawi Electoral Commission to court over politicians ‘promises and lies’

Malawian lawyer, Ambokire Salimu has taken a bold move and dragged Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to court to influence electoral law reform that would ensure elected public officers are bound by their campaign promises.

Lawyer Salimu

Lawyer Salimu

Salimu, in an individual capacity, filed for Leave for Judicial Review at the High Court in Blantyre to push for Mec to refer Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, Political Parties Act and Local Government Elections Act to the Law Commission for review to incorporate a provision that specifically calls public officers elected through universal suffrage to be legally bound by promises they make to voters.

According to the Constitution, the authority to govern the country derives from the people of Malawi; surprisingly, there is no clause in the country’s electoral laws that place any direct legal obligation on those seeking public office through ballot to fulfill promises they make to electorate during campaign period.

The court has set Thursday next week when the application for Leave for Judicial Review will be heard. If granted, the court, based on Salimu’s application, is expected to issue an ex-parte Order of interlocutory Injunction, restraining Mec from conducting elections in the country until the outcome of the Judicial Review.

Application for Judicial Review

Salimu told Nyasa Times that he decided to take the board step and push for electoral law reform, arguing as a Malawian citizen he is directly affected by the ‘status quo he seeks to reverse’.

Salimu argued that those who seek public office through elections do so, on the basis of express promises made to the people, including himself, and yet there is no statutory provision that binds them to
deliver on such premises.

“As a voter and citizen of Malawi, I give the holders of public office through elections their legal validation. It is a legitimate expectation that these public officers shall deliver on their campaign promises,” argued Salimu.

He added: “Section 6 of the Constitution expressly says that all authority to govern derives from the people yet the legislation under which the electoral commission has continued to conduct elections does not bind those seeking election to public office to their campaign promises”.

He cited the example of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which promised during campaign period to reduce presidential powers in respect of the appointment of the directors for institutions like the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), once elected.

The promise was even highlighted in the party’s printed manifesto, page 12 (paragraph xiv) and page 27 (paragraph xiii), dubbed Towards People-Centered Government.

However, the party has used its majority members in Parliament to defeat private members’ bill that sought to amend the Corrupt Practices Act to align with the exact promises the party made.

Salimu was quick to point out that the case is not against DPP but the electoral laws.

“This is not about DPP as a party, no. What happened in the National Assembly vis-avis the private members’ bill to amend the Corrupt Practices Act is an example of eventualities arising out of the lack
of express statutory prescription biding those who seek public office to be bound their campaign promises,” further argued Salimu.


Salimu said the electoral commission mandate goes beyond just holding of elections in Malawi as stipulated in Section 76 (2)(d), adding the Section places Constitutional obligation on the commission to ensure the elections in this country are, in all aspects, in compliance with the Constitution.

“It is therefore important that all laws governing elections in the country are in tandem with the ultimate constitutional provisions; the same Constitution that expressly provides in Section 6 that the
authority to govern comes from the people of Malawi,” he said.

He said it was incumbent on the electoral commission to initiate such electoral law reform that would uphold the constitutional prescription.

“In Sub-section (2) the electoral commission is required to freely communicate with government and any political party or candidate, person or organization; I therefore would like it to communicate with
the Law Commission to review and synchronize our electoral laws with especially Section 6 of the Constitution”.

In Malawi politicians have for long time being accused of failing to uphold promises made to the public in order to win votes.

Meanwhile, Mec is in the process of undertaking reforms which, among other things, will see re-demarcation of wards and constituencies, adoption and use of the biometric voter registration system in the future elections and the use 50+1 System in identifying the winner especially for president.

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40 thoughts on “Lawyer drags Malawi Electoral Commission to court over politicians ‘promises and lies’”

  1. Commentator says:

    Mr. Salimu, I think you are very patriotic! This is the patriotism we need for our nation to progress. It is obvious some opportunists will oppose your ideas because they want to continue taking advantage of the semi-illiterate and not-so-enlightened Malawian voter. Honestly the quality of debate by some readers on this article merely reminds us why Malawi is the poorest country in the world. But such is the beauty of social media!

  2. BABAZULA says:

    Tamangoyimbani a bwana Ambokile kasi

  3. Abudula says:

    Inu bwana loyala ikadakhala nkhani ya maloyala yobera wanthu ndalama zao ife tikadakondwera, koma pelepa baba ngati yausilu yereyo. Mumangofuna kuonekera pa nyazatimes, komanso ndi magalasi ndi zobvala zogulira ndi ndalama zobera wanthu. Za chamba zimenezo, mwakwera yopanda matayala, amene aja akupweteketsani.

  4. Chambe says:

    Whilst the move may sound good, the MEC law reforms on campaign promises might not bring any intended change. Assuming the law is put in place, campaigners will still promise knowing that they will not deliver on their promises. They will go around the law rendering it useless. If they promised by saying:” I will build the school block”, they will change to: “when you elect me, I will influence the government to build the school block”. You can get away with the second one because you can prove to have influenced the government though the school block has not been built.

  5. Kumayamika a Malawi,mwana wa mchawa waganiza apa and akunena za mnzeru.If those people who are elected are same from being removed they must pay at least a consideration, ie delivering on their promises. Failure to fulfil the campaign promise is like failure to meet terms and conditions of a contract hence cancelation of the same.

  6. Jelbin Mk says:

    For those opposing this lawyer what do they call when someone asks you to farm his tobacco field and promises you a cow in return but when the season is over he says am giving you a chicken? Is this not hypocrisy on its best? Is it not cheating? So should we really condole it? You must be very stupid and dull then if you are of the view that Ambokire is insane.

  7. Zanga Phee! says:

    Good Idea ambukire please don’t be alone they will kill you i promise, problem when you are in politics killings is not an issue you hire they do it you pay them.See my name.

  8. Mbakula says:

    Effects of too much sex. I used to think all lawyers are intelligent until I read this crap. Kuyimba kukanike uloyanso chimene mumatha ndi chiyani apart from womanising?

  9. Advisory Committee says:

    Hemp chambatu ichi

  10. Balamanthu says:

    Ambokire has done this country proud-especially those of us that are commoners. Integrity must start at keeping promises these politicians make so that they are held to account for their promises. Amene akutusutsa ndi mbava za DPP.Any person with just three senses will see that there is no tribalism or personal aggrandizement here.

  11. Jahan says:

    Now that’s what we call citizenship! Osati zinazi zomangolankhulalAnkhula basi, marching, remove president, za ziiii. Big thumbs up Man! Wish I had the money to support your cause!

  12. Zona says:

    But unfortunately the judge who will preside over this case will be in government’s pocket. So his motion will be dismissed

    We need all these old bones to die first then we can make progress. Otherwise nkhondo ngati izi ndizabwino koma nzosawinika. With the old blocks blocking any sign of integrity and accountability and progress

  13. mfumujay says:

    I am always saddened by fellow Malawians who, when a good idea is floated by a selfless compatriot, they will always say “in the USA or the UK, nothing of this sort ever happens”. Or, worse still, start waving the tribal flag, as often is the case on this forum.

    Fellow Malawians, let’s stop from comparing on how things are in Malawi with those that are in the West. This is Malawi, when a new idea or thought is brought out by a patriotic citizen and which stands to take our country to the next level of good governance, let all well-meaning people rally behind and support it. This kind of revolutionary thinking will ensure that, at the end of the day, we have a Malawi that we can all be proud of, one that will be a beacon to all countries around us and a worthy legacy to our children and their children.

    Let’s be supportive when a good idea is advanced by any one of us without waving the regional flag or be dismissive about it. This is our country; we either sail safely in it or sink with it; the choice is ours collectively.

  14. dpp_sapota says:

    this guy deserves our vote

  15. No one says:

    Kukhala ngati uli ndi nzeru! Thumb up!!!

  16. I call myself a layman in legal issues but my thinking on what Ambikile is trying to do is two fold: Ambokile is not famous and he wants people to know that he exists and people can try his services or Ambokire must be diagnosed. It may happen that something is not going well in his upstairs and is doing this without knowing what he is doing. This is pure insane.

  17. Chembwiye says:

    Mphamvu ya fodya, zimene akunenazo anamva kuti zimachitika kuti?

  18. Honeycomb Chidyauzu says:

    This is a very good move. These politicians have fooled us for a very long time.

  19. Very good suggestion. Lets hope the court will use its learned judges to see it to the very end.

  20. Patriot says:

    I will deliver my campaign promises bit in the last year’s of my term as I will be busy mobilising resources.

  21. Aubrey says:

    Nice indeed, if all people were to think like you, Malawi wouldn’t be where she’s today. We really need patriotic citizens like Ambukile, I am sure some stakeholders and people of good will wil join in in pursuing nothing but the truth in our young democracy.

  22. bt says:

    Simply great thinking. Whatever point you are speaking from, the argument is valid and good for the populace. I ask some more learned people of good will to support such arguments that benefit an ‘ordinary’ malawian.

  23. paul says:

    You would in the least expect that in such a tug-of-war game, the chain with all citizens have their hands around the sacrificial lamb! But this being Malawi, my imagination leaves me chocked in comic laughter! The picture’s just too vivid only a corrupt fat cat would ignore it!

  24. Ngolongoliwa says:

    Excellent idea any sane Malawian should stand to support. If we had this in our constitution Malawi would have been where we are now

  25. kkilembe says:

    You dont cash out a promise, who knows it could be manifested on the last day of leaving office by the MP. Malawian voters love to be lied to. This is a waste of court time.

  26. makida says:

    You mean BOLD move?

  27. Tikondane says:

    Sounds good, Ambokile. Sounds selfless, indeed. Hold them by the neck, very well. They refuse to account these crooks.

  28. Thyolo Thava says:

    Pitala ukumva

  29. David Phiri says:

    I applause Salimu we need people like you who dwell on issues that can develop the country.
    This is a wake up call to politians who enter into politics to dupe us the masses – iwo kukhala pozizira zonse kuziponya uko, anthu miyanda miyanda kuwasiya kumoto ndipo mwano wake osafuna kuwamvera madandaulo awo. MULUNGU adzalanga amamva kulira kwa anthu ake.






  31. Agogo says:

    Nzeru koma zimenezi. Ndipo ACB bill was a blow to us voters. What those MPs did to defeat it was a treason.
    Go Salimu go Chakhwantha. Inu ndiye ana amalawi weni weni

  32. Phwisa says:

    You implement using funds. And not personal money. Its only if the promises are not implemented inspite of chithumba phwii cha ndalama. Otherwise Salim just want to make a name

  33. Maz says:

    Malawi needs people who care like him. Well done and hope he gets his wish.

  34. Mbodzole says:

    good move

  35. unenesko Nguwemi says:

    Thanks for taking that courage and leadership in this.Help your country ,mother Malawi.
    I remember when we just at mother Loboss and changed to lioss you were intelligent and courageous.You have reminded when went to study(Kupaya) at Chatoloka and when were eat mlabe fruit (BUYU) wakwa engine.I feel proud of you.Next time lets go there to watch Malipenga dance at Makulawe and Yofu.

  36. Nenani says:

    This is a good move. All Malawians know that during the campaign Peter Mutharika promised Malawians that he is going to bring economic prosperity to Malawians. However two years after he became president in Mav 2014 what he has delivered is economic doom and gloom. Under his rule the Kwacha has fallen from K450 to K700, inflation increased from 16% to over 24% and interest rates ballooned to over 40% from 30%. The high cost of living is punishing ordinary Malawians. And hunger is everywhere. Peter Mutharika is failing and political intimidation is rising.

  37. Thaku Libaya says:

    Excellent! these so called politicians have fooled for quite too long. They use false promises.

  38. chikopa says:

    Awa a mutu ngati wa anthu akwasakwasa angofuna kutchuka basi. Izi ku States kaya UK kulibe. Bwanji uzikayimba nyimbo zako zotukwana zija “Ndilowetse, Ndilowetse!” Mkazi uja umulowetse chani? Uyu ndi mtumbuka ufuna kukhala ngati mmwenye.

  39. No Laughing Matter says:

    Let’s clap hands for him it is about time people stop use public office for their own gains. Another lawyer please stand up and investigate the riches of all our past presidents and their ministers. This country has gone to the dogs, pleasure without conscience.

  40. Commentator says:

    Wow, so much time on his hand.

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