Legitimacy matters are ‘non-derogable’ in democracy, says Malawi watchdog CHRR

Malawi rights campaigners Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) said that matters of legitimacy are non-derogable and fundamental pillars of good governance and hence must not be compromised in any way.

The statement comes on the hills of a continued heated court battle in the aftermath of 20 May Tripartite elections with the electoral body opting for a recount of votes following o massive irregularities and the Democratic Progressive Party and New Labour Party challenging such a decision on legal grounds.

However, the human rights group held a news conference at its base in Lilongwe where CHRR Executive Director Timothy Mtambo argued that Malawians must guard against any attempt to compromise on legitimacy matters in the current post-May 20 election saga as such issues are fundamental in good governance.

Mtambo addressing the journalists
Mtambo addressing the journalists

“We at CHRR would like to remind all Malawians that legitimacy [to govern] is a fundamental pillar of good governance and hence must not be compromised in any way just because we want to appease certain individuals or authorities or avoid conflicts. Legitimacy means being lawfully and popularly accepted through such public processes as credible, free and fair elections where the will of the people reign supreme” said the outspoken CHRR chief.

According to Mtambo, Malawians should not only be concerned with having the results of the election but also the quality or credibility of such outcome.

“While Malawians are waiting with bated breath on the outcome of the election, they also need to know that it’s not just about the outcome of the elections but rather whether the will of the people has reigned supreme in the whole electoral processes. As a country, we should hence be ready to protect and promote our democracy by voicing out all our concerns regarding the electoral processes”, he said.

Mtambo also backed the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) recent stance to opt for recounting of votes following the observable irregularities.

“We at CHRR applaud the Malawi Electoral Commission for coming out of its shell to publicly declare that there were several pressing irregularities with the voting process prompting it to call for a physical voting audit. By calling for a physical voting audit, Malawi Electoral Commission was clearly sending the message that the prevailing observed irregularities, if not curbed with certain measures like physical voting audit, would compromise the quality or credibility of the outcome of the election. With the national interest at heart and in fulfilment of its legal mandate of ensuring a free, fair and credible election MEC was hence justified to call for a physical voting audit.”

The rights group note that forcing the commission to release the results, as is being agitated by some quarters is tantamount to legitimizing the observed gross irregularities, a scenario that would make it difficult for the key stakeholders to accept such results as credible.

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