Kachale says democracy must be resilient, not let Covid-19 kill it

Across the world, the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has introduced a new wrinkle into the already complicated business of holding an election but Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Justice Dr Chifundo Kachale has implored on southern African nations with scheduled elections to protect democracy without putting lives in danger.

Justice Kachale: Not let Covid-19 kill democracy but do the needful to safeguard live

While public health should be considered, Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi who led MEC to conduct the court-sanctioned June 23 fresh presidential elections successful two weeks after his assuming office, said the health of democracy should also be taken care of.

He said this during  a nine-nation webinar for leaders of political parties and electoral management bodies organised by Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) in partnership with International Republican Institute (IRI) on how elections should go forward – if at all.

“Democracy must be resilient and adapt to real life situations. The conditions may be ideal, but we still have to organise elections,” said Kachale, who managed Africa’s first  presidential election re-run won by an opposition leader – Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who led the nine-party Tonse Allaince on the banner of MCP on presidential ballot.

Campaigning for election is built on closeness and voting itself often forces people to scrunch together in queues, touching the same polling-place door handles and touch screens and ink pads. Then health experts say touch and breath could spread a deadly Covid-19.

However, Kachale insisted that in democracy the show must go on.

“Life has challenges. Today, it is Covid-19 and tomorrow it will be something else. We cannot use it as an excuse not to do what we ought to do.”

He said African governments must learn to deal with such emergencies while making democracy resilient.

“There are ways and means that can be engaged to protect lives,” he said.

Malawi’s election was fraught long before Covid-19 arrived on the scene. The vote was originally held in May 2019, with former president Peter Mutharika declared the winner. But the opposition cried foul, saying that Tipp-Ex correction fluid had been used to alter results from several polling stations, and that others were faked or duplicated.

On 3 February this year, the panel of five judges at the Constitutional Court nullified the 2019 vote and called for a fresh election – only the second time that a court in sub-Saharan Africa has done so.

Then came Covid-19.

On March 20, before Malawi had a single confirmed case of Covid-19, Mutharika ordered schools closed and banned gatherings of more than 100 people. The country’s first three confirmed cases were announced on April 2. The government then announced a lockdown, but protests erupted, and the High Court ordered it could not be implemented until it included measures to protect poor people. Today, Malawi has over 3 300 confirmed cases and almost 100 deaths.

Across Africa, the stakes are especially high. On a continent where many health systems are fragile and transfers of power often tenuous, the balance between public health and democracy has been particularly hard to strike.

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Thipodo
10 months ago

Iwe kachale wa MEC pathako pako., Unatibera victory Ife a UDPPF. Why did you allow votes which were cast and counted without the presence of UDPPF monitors after they were hacked and chased from polling stations in Central Region? Panyapako Kachale. Uziyenda mochenjera. Kodi akanakhala kuti the monitors who were chased from polling stations were MCP bwezi mavoti ama poling station amenewo mutawavomereza????????? Isn’t that judicial coup? Shupit!!!

Bolani
Bolani
10 months ago

It seems just like many other donor dependent countries,we subscribe to the primitive principles of democracy and yet we applaud ourselves for being a democratic nation. The architects of democracy would surely laugh at both our logic and reasoning. For sure there is no RIGHT that is greater than the right to LIFE…The perfect human rights charter is derived from Islam,Christianity,Hinduism,Bhudism…simply put it is enshrined in the sacred religious statutes.
It’s time we kept God’s commandments that the demon-cracy statutes.

M'bobo
M'bobo
10 months ago

What’s wrong with you lawyers? Always flawed reasoning that if it is legal then it’s right. , No its not right to prioritise change of government even if it means risking human lives. What’s the point of safeguarding democracy when doing so increases rate of Covid-19? Look the top utm lady and many others not here to celebrate her efforts because they succumbed to Covid-19.

Our friends in Uganda postponed the elections and are even managing Covid19 much better than chakwera. Ethiopia have delayed if not cancelled elections. Hate Poor Malawi and its greedy lawyers!!

True
True
10 months ago
Reply to  M'bobo

We could have been in a civil war – Uganda is rotten to the core. Do not be fooled by Uganda stance. Kachale is very right.

Wiseup
Wiseup
10 months ago
Reply to  M'bobo

WINTER increases the rate of covid not democracy. Get your facts right.

Burundi
Burundi
10 months ago
Reply to  M'bobo

Surely we are much better off with Covid-19 than your DPP. Death has been. Is and will be there regardless. Ulira suunati

Mlomwe
10 months ago

Covid much much better than DPP.
Ku mbayani crowded place no social distancing and few mask wearing yet no deaths or sickness. The same with bangwe , ndix kingdom, ntandire, kaphiri market.

Test
Test
10 months ago

So stupid. So many UTM people e.g Alhaj and that lady died. I suppose the DPP cooked those too. Matenda abwera and tivomereze. Malawi has no oxygen cylinders. Masm is not paying. Wafawafa

Wiseup
Wiseup
10 months ago
Reply to  Test

2 people or even 10 from UTM or any other party are not so many people. Hundreds die every day in Malawi from various ailments. What is so special with covid death? Those people did not even die on same day. Please see comment above and below yours. That is the TRUTH.

Wiseup
Wiseup
10 months ago
Reply to  Wiseup

Life has to go on

Truth
Truth
10 months ago

I do not trust these Covid19 figures. Dpp is rotten and the Covid19 figures were cooked too. Tonse Alliances clean the figures. People can cook the figures to continue receiving allowances. What is stunning is that in crowded communities where we live there are no sick people. Be segacious. Kachale is right.

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