The state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has released a detailed report on the May 20 elections which ushered President Peter Mutharika to power controversially, saying the polls were not “credible”.
Mutharika, 75, the younger brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office in 2012, was declared winner of the disputed polls.
The commission’s chairperson Sophie Kalinde launched the results of the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections Monitoring Report in Lilongwe on Thursday.
In the report, MHRC observes that the elections were not fair, not transparent and therefore not credible
“In particular, it is noteworthy that electoral stakeholders especially political parties, and the people of Malawi themselves ensured that the volatile situation which may easily have erupted protracted and widespread violence was contained. It is also commendable that MEC (Malawi Electoral Commission) worked hard to ensure that the elections were managed and administered effectively. Thus, on the whole, the elections were conducted in a generally a peaceful and calm environment, save for isolated pockets of violence in some areas,” reads the report in part.
The report punched holes on the credibility of the elections that ushered Mutharika to power, saying “the numerous discrepancies and irregularities, limitations with respect to preparedness on the part of MEC, limited resources, and incidences of violence albeit isolated, that marred the elections period leave a significant dent on the credibility of the elections.”
The commission report states that while not all of these events occurred at all polling sites, “they were not isolated incidents, either, but rather came up repeatedly in different polling centres, indicating a widespread and systematic assault on the right to vote.”
MHRC report said its findings “demonstrate a clear pattern of systematic undermining of the people’s right to a free and fair election.”
Reads the report: “Elections cannot be free and fair in the face of several glaring irregularities, some of them seemingly minor, which nonetheless, cumulatively substantially affect the extent to which the elections can be said to have been free and fair.
“Therefore, whereas, the elections may generally have been free, these developments seriously negate the aspect of fairness in the electoral process. “
Further, MHRC reports states that the credibility of the elections, in terms of both the process and the outcome is “therefore cast in very serious doubts.”
The Commission said it finds the “wholesome pronouncements” by some commentators and observers of the freeness, fairness and credibility of May 2014 Tripartite elections “particularly disconcerting” considering the many irregularities that were observed.
MHRC said the information contained in its report raises “serious questions on the rhetoric that has applauded the May 2014 Tripartite elections as free, fair, transparent and credible in most absolute terms.”
The commission recommended that the elections management capacity of MEC needs to be strengthened, including among other things by ensuring that Malawi graduates from dependence on donors to fund its elections.
“Government should be committed to fully and timely fund Malawi’s elections,” recommends MHRC.
The rights commission also recommends that detailed in-depth investigations into the shortcomings and irregularities of the elections should be carried out “in order to identify the root causes and put the issue of whether or not these developments were a result of deliberate manipulation to rest.”
The MHRC report comes after a renowned governance body Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) criticised the “flawed” election of Mutharika, saying the result was tainted by “substantial electoral irregularities”.
Mtambo said following the public outcry on the anomalies, the court could have ruled for voter audit and allow time to carry the exercise.
In the disapproval of the outcome, Mtambo recommended that Malawi Law Commission should look at the 8 day period if the time was enough to address the electoral mess.
The commission hasalso called for several electoral reforms, including overhauling the first-past-the-post system to a system where the winner is voted for by a majority—and further discusses flaws during the pre-election period, during the eventual period and a five-month post-election period.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :