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.

Why MEC

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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Commentator
Guest
Commentator
5 months 11 days ago

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!

BABAZULA
Guest
BABAZULA
5 months 12 days ago

Tamangoyimbani a bwana Ambokile kasi

Abudula
Guest
Abudula
5 months 12 days ago

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.

Chambe
Guest
Chambe
5 months 12 days ago
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… Read more »
Nyadilani Bus services
Guest
5 months 12 days ago

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.

Jelbin Mk
Guest
Jelbin Mk
5 months 12 days ago

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.

Zanga Phee!
Guest
Zanga Phee!
5 months 12 days ago

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.

Mbakula
Guest
Mbakula
5 months 12 days ago

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?

Advisory Committee
Guest
Advisory Committee
5 months 12 days ago

Hemp chambatu ichi

Balamanthu
Guest
5 months 12 days ago

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.

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