If there is one thing that the current electoral crisis has revealed, then it’s the increasing public interest in debating and questioning the role of commissioners in the entire electoral process.
Before the February 2 Constitution Court ruling, much of the debate surrounding elections management in the country was narrowed to questioning the effectiveness and efficiency of the chairperson of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
It appears we didn’t find it imperative to broaden our question regarding how other commissioners help shape the success or failure of our electoral process.
Well, here we are now.
After the ConCourt ruling, there has been increased public interest in questioning the role of the commissioners, specifically, narrowed to their role in the electoral mess that was May 20 2019 Tri-partite elections.
In much of the debates, it is increasingly becoming clear that though the buck stops at the chairperson of MEC; the other commissioners, too, play a critical role that shouldn’t be underestimated.
That is why, as the search for new commissioners is already underway, it is imperative that, as a country, we begin to debate our commissioners—both from the perspective of their appointments and, also, their terms of reference.
In terms of their appointment, what we know, of course, is that political parties nominate names before the president, and then he, alone, makes the final decision.
I don’t know how much discretionary powers the president has there; however, the spirit of the law there, by involving political parties, is that the recruitment process of commissioners must be consultative.
This process, to me, isn’t conclusive. I still find it important if, after the President’s nod, the Public Appointment Committee (PAC) should also be involved to screen and scrutinize.
For years, we have had electoral processes wrought with irregularities to the extent where a court declared recent ones invalid.
The question we must ask ourselves is: If one political party disagrees with the results of the elections, what was the role of the said party’s commissioner in endorsing such results?
Let me put it simple.
After the May 20 2019 Tri-partite elections, MCP went to court to challenge the results. But, truth be told, these are the same results that commissioners endorsed and MCP commissioners was one of them. So what are we talking about here?
These stories, to a greater extent, largely tell us something about the caliber of commissioners that, in their hands, we rest the big task of managing elections.
For years, the job of commissioners has always been left to retired politicians and, most interestingly, retired religious gurus.
I am yet to understand the reason, but these retirees haven’t done the nation any good if we look at the history of how elections have been managed in the country.
I argue that the process of electoral management is too complex and demanding to be left to retirees who, often, are too old, too tired and their main focus is to safeguard the material benefits of the job to help them survive and sail through demands of their age.
Its time political parties gave us active personnel, even youths, to take a leading role in electoral management in the country as commissioners. We need people that have the urge, have the knowledge, can question the processes and can stand up for the truth.
Not these old guys, always dosing, only to wake for two things: pending signatures on results they hardly know and pending signatures on cheques of their fat allowances and benefits.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :