Malawi 2014 elections: Either bring rigging evidence or stop hallucinations

Those individuals from the opposition or civil society that have made it a habit to hallucinate at every turn about the possible rigging of the coming elections should do this country a favour.

They should simply bring evidence so that we all act on it now before it is too late. But without evidence they are sounding as petty as mere empty tins hell-bent on making useless noise.

Let me make this very clear. Elections can or have been rigged here in Malawi or elsewhere in the world before.

Former UDF stuntman, the late Dumbo Lemani, stunned the country after the 2004 elections when he said UDF rigged those polls in favour of the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Whether there was substance in what the flamboyant Dumbo said or it was just sour grapes after Mutharika dumped UDF, a party that sponsored him to the presidency, has not been probed until now.

Suffice to say, John Tembo and MCP still believe that they won the 2004 polls and nobody can blame them for that especially that rigging revelations came from an insider in the calibre of Dumbo.

So, yes, elections can be rigged. But, excuse me, the way the word rigging is being thrown carelessly around has become a travesty.

Some Nigerian plane lands at Chileka in the dead of night with visitors for the State House and the whole country is in uproar with civil society members outdoing each other in posting empty stuff that lacks any smoking gun on the social media and laying an accusatory finger at some nefarious business in govern-ment.

I would have thought by now, something would have come out of the plane issue but nothing tangible has materia-lised by way of evidence. It was just hot air.

Then this week it was about MEC bringing into the country lamps and tents that it has borrowed from Zimbabwe for the election night next month and once again everybody was up in arms, pointing at some nefarious activity MEC is engaging. Put into the picture the fact that MEC delayed in opening up the sealed goods as they were waiting for MRA officials and it was a blast as if the world is coming to an end!

This ‘carto-oning’ and empty conspiracy theories by the opposition and some civil society members is not only affecting their credibility, but also unnecessarily raising the temperature in the run up to the polls on May 20.

I repeat, elections can be rigged but making empty accusations without evidence is foolish and it has to stop.

To me the issue should have been why MEC is embarrassing the country by borrowing lamps and tents from Zimbabwe when it should be buying them.

We know, as a country, we are poor but MEC has no right to unnecessarily ‘advertise’ our poverty to the outside world by borrowing things we can afford with more prudent use of resources at its disposal.

What is the use of that huge MEC elections budget if it cannot procure basic things needed for the smooth running of elections such as tents and lamps? What is the money used for? Is it to procure the latest range of VX Toyotas for MEC commissioners?  This is the fifth general election since the dawn of multiparty politics in Malawi. What was MEC using during those three elections? Was it also borrowing?

But we can do better as a country. For the sake of a credible election process, opposition leaders should bring tangible evidence if they shout the word rigging or else they should shut up.

As for MEC, borrowing mere lamps from Zimbabwe is not nice. Surely, we can afford them as a country.

  • Th article appeared in Weekend Nation newspaper column of My Diary.
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