When the Constitutional Court judges delivered their verdict on the Presidential election case, President Peter Mutharika accepted the judgment with dignity and statesmanship.
But he also observed that the judgment had errors that need to be corrected – for the sake of national good.
In his national address, Mutharika said: “We consider the judgement as a serious subversion of justice, an attack on our democratic systems and an attempt to undermine the will of the people.
“As it stands, the judgment, if not cured, represents a flawed precedence for all the elections in all future elections in the country. In fact, this judgment inaugurates the death of Malawi’s democracy.”
As usual, the critics were quick to slam his observation, to the extent that even the five judges threw out his application for stay of the judgment pending appeal.
Today, Mutharika is being vindicated. Malawi is in what some describe as a Constitutional Crisis following the defeat of the Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament on Thursday. Parliament has refused to put into law a directive of the High Court to change Malawi’s constitution from a first-past-the-post majority to 50+1 majority.
This is exactly what Mutharika feared. Most people now agree that Mutharika is a patient democrat, well-tempered and wise leader who is focused on protecting Malawi’s laws and democratic principles.
By issuing orders to Parliament, the court breached the provision of the independence of the Legislature.
It is there in the laws that the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature are independent from each other. This is what our democracy provides.
The judges orders were an attack on the democratic system of independence of these arms. It kills this democracy. This is less surprising because there is now well understood belief that the High Court judges were both compromised and intimidated by Opposition violence.
It is also not surprising that Parliament defeated the Bill because the court threatened its immunity. It is that judicial overreach that has driven us to this conflict today.
The court also trampled upon the Will of the People as Mutharika rightly observed. The judges nullified the Presidential election not because the result was flawed in any way. They said they did so because of irregularities, none of which affected the final figures of the election.
The winner of the election did not win because of the said irregularities. The losers of the election did not lose because of the said irregularities. The winner won and the losers lost because voters had decided that way.
That is, the Will of the People was expressed fully, as provided in the law. What it means is that the judgment trampled upon the Will of the People by rejecting a legitimate result.
Well, it might be argued that the court do not represent people. Perhaps that is why those that represent people, Parliament, have acted according to the Will of the People through defeating the bill.
The position taken by Parliament is an outright backlash of the High Court judgement. Even the international community is unhappy with what is now understood by a compromised judgement which was meant to benefit individual politicians.
- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors