There are specific days, in the history of any nation, that are more than just figures and numbers. These are definite days that scars memories as a watershed; yes, that day when the old met its fate and the new took over.
You can think of January 23 1915, that day when John Chilembwe and team revolted against a colonial oppressive system and, in its stead, put in place a system of racial equality.
You can think of March 3 1959, when Malawians rose against white colonial rule, demanding self-rule and independence.
You can think of June 14, 1993 when Malawians took to the polls to end 31 years of one party dictatorship for multi-party democracy.
Or, recently, you can think of July 21 2011 when millions took to the street and put a stop to President Bingu wa Mutharika’s impunity.
In all these dates, one thing is central—the oppressive old dies off and the hopeful new takes over. That is why whenever these dates are invoked—either through memorials or commemorations; they inspire the hearts of the nation to soldier on against all odds. They are watershed because they remind nations that, whatever happens, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.
Will Monday February 3—the day the Constitutional Court will deliver its verdict on the elections case—be another watershed date in the history of Malawi?
What’s critical with Monday 3 ruling is the quest for people’s voice to be respected.
You know what? Democracy thrives on the voice of the people; their wish as in how they want to be governed. That wish is expressed through a voting process managed by an electoral system that is supposed to accountable, fair, transparent and free.
The May 2019 elections had its challenges. Reports of manipulated ballot papers, gross use of tippex, miscalculations and contradictory results points to a flawed electoral process that stifles the will and the voice of how people want to be governed.
Monday 3, therefore, is another watershed day in history because, on this day, the ruling will be able to show the nation if, in this country, we have a functional or a dysfunctional electoral management system.
If the court upholds last year’s elections results, what will become of all the anomalies that defined the voting counting processes? What will be the impact of such a decision on subsequent elections? Will Malawians have faith in our electoral system to encourage them to stand on queue and cast their vote again?
If the court nullifies the results, will that decision restore Malawians’ faith in their electoral management system or it will deepen their dislike and disdain of it?
These are key questions that the Monday ruling needs to answer—its more than just having fresh elections. It’s about the quest to have an electoral system that respect the voices and wishes of the people.
Democracy, I repeat, thrives on the voice of the people; their wish as in how they want to be governed. So Monday’s ruling is about two questions: Do we have an electoral system that respects people’s wishes or we have one that disdains?
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