A delegation of the state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) Commissioners and secretariat staff presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs a detailed report on the 2014 tripartite elections which ushered President Peter Mutharika to power controversially, and indicated the polls were not “credible”.
Chairperson of MHRC, Sophie Kalinde stated that commission monitored all the three stages of the elections namely the pre-election phase, election phase and post-election phase.
She said that main challenges facing MEC are about the suspension of its commissioners, delayed appointment of new commissioners and its independence, the composition of MEC by individuals with political affiliations, presentation of nomination papers, role of the media; opening of polling stations and shortage of polling materials and forced leave of the director general of MBC.
Commissioner Ben Kondowe touched on nullification of polls by the then State President Joyce Banda and call for voter recount; delayed announcement of elections results; management of the transition process; Call for review of the first past-the-post electoral system ;and capture of the media and civil society by government.
Commissioner Dr. Rev Zacc Kawalala concluded the presentation by restating the stand of the commission on the 2014 tripartite elections.
Based on its extensive elections monitoring, the Commission’s main finding is that Malawi failed to administer fair, transparent and credible elections, and to address the irregularities which besieged the electoral process.
The Commission 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.
“Therefore, the Commission envisages that the information contained in this 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,”said Kawalala.
Mutharika, 76, the younger brother of president Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office in 2012, was declared winner of the disputed polls.
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.”
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”.
The commission has also 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 :