PP primaries: Rigging machinery in overdrive

In my earlier contribution to Nyasa Times last year, l did point out to indications that Malawi  was being led towards a stolen election in 2014 by the Peoles Party (PP) under the auspices of the Israeli company Nikuv Projects International following an expose by a Zimbabwean paper The Zimbabwe Independent.

In my contribution l pointed out to some of the modus operandi used by Nikuv and ZANU PF to steal the elections in Zimbabwe last July which were ostensibly now being adopted and adapted for the Malawi election due mid this year.

One such tactic being the inflation of figures during primary elections which figures are then used to sanitize rigged outcomes in the actual balloting during the actual general elections.

We have already heard the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) was targeting 8 million voters up from 6.5 million in 2009. Your guess is as good as mine where the additional 1.5 million plus voters will come from. That is a whooping 20 percent increment in the number of voters.

Verifying the votes  for PP primaries in Karonga central.-Mtika, Nyasa Times
Verifying the votes for PP primaries in Karonga central.-Mtika, Nyasa Times

Besides, PP primaries taking place all over the country leave more questions than answers. The high figures being touted by PP in their primary elections are falling squarely into this modus operandi and begs for answers as to how that is possible.

I will single out one particular case. The primary election results in Minister OF Tourism Moses Kunkuyu’s Dedza constituency where in a total of 19,287 votes were cast in a primary election with the bulk of these about 90 percent going to the Minister himself. One question that begs answers is at what point did a new party like PP command 19,000 in primaries in only 2 years of existence 1,000 voters more than what the popular sitting incumbent  JZU Tembo  of  the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) amassed  in the 2009 general elections. A total of 18,481 votes were cast in Tembo’s favour in 2009. Do l smell a rat here. Certainly.

It is not in dispute Malawian voting patterns are highly regionalized. Going by past trends there is no way any party other than MCP would win constituencies in Dedza. Only the late Bingu wa Mutharika made inroads into the Central region. Suffice to say he won most of the centre but performed dismally in Dedza. That is a living fact.

For one to think Joyce Banda’s PP which has visited utmost and untold suffering on rural masses battling dearth of drugs in hospitals, high food prices, poor yields from lack of fertilizer, steeped fertilizer and seed prices can command so much support more than the incumbent in a Dedza constituency where communal farming is their backbone defies logic. Something is definitely amiss.

The reality is that PP is trying to float these supposedly high turnouts in their primaries as a ruse of purported overwhelming support for the PP. They are using these high figures as a precursor to stealing the election and use same to predetermine its outcomes.

No wonder Joyce Banda can boldly declare that there is no vacancy in the State House until 2024 in the same brazen and contemptuous manner in which Mugabe’s wife in Zimbabwe Grace Mugabe told opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The rest is history we know what happened in Zimbabwe.

The question then is what is it that she knows that we Malawians do not?

In my experience of primary elections, l have never heard of a primary election that yields up to 19,287 voters like what is claimed to have happened in this Dedza constituency.

Zimbabwe is the only exception. Some candidates there secured party nominations by over 19,000 to over 20,000 votes and these purported votes were used to rig the election in favor of Mugabe assisted by Israeli’s Nikuv Projects. ZANU PF candidates went on to win by exactly the same margin as were touted in the primary elections.

We know of constituencies in Zimbabwe where basing on the demographics of some areas an entire constituency including unregistered and under aged children actually voted to make up for some of the high numbers which turned up during primary elections there which were covertly used  by Mugabe to win the 2013 elections.

In normal candidate nomination procedures,  primaries are the sole domain of constituency leadership of the political parties who exercise this right to nominate the party representative on behalf of their followers.  The constituency management team consisting of the chair, treasurer, secretary and constituency committees – constituency down to branch and cell levels – carry the mandate to take part in these primary elections.

No matter how big, well structured, well resourced and organized a political party is, there is no way primaries in a single constituency would yield up to 19,000 voters.

Does it mean this particular party PP has micro branches probable at individual household level? That would surely be a first and very much unprecedented.  Running primaries for such a large number is a logistical nightmare for any party let alone an under resourced party like PP. Even MEC would really feel the heat running a ballot for such a large group. One would be interested to hear how PP managed this feat if it is not turning to be a very big lie. I am sure even the most fervent and staunch admirers of PP are shocked at these levels of turnout.

The confidence Joyce Banda exudes that she will win the forthcoming elections and her bold declaration that there is no vacancy in the state house despite her waning support and glaring failures of her administration is an indication she seeks to rely on unethical means to win these elections. Such confidence is disproportionate and hardly matches in anyway her miserable performance in the two years in office.

It is not by any means motivated by her administrations performance to say the least. Something else drives the confidence and sooner or later Malawians will know.

With all due respect it is a known fact this woman has dismally failed this nation and brought ridicule on her fellow women who may in future aspire for higher office. She hardly inspires any confidence in Malawians to have her remain at the helm any day longer. Public perceptions, that of multilateral organizations and the donor community that work with Malawi do not inspire confidence in her leadership either. No wonder the country has lost millions in vital donor aid.

For her to claim the donors are punishing her for fighting corruption is the most unintelligent, fictitious, expedient propaganda trite ever conjured by any state president.

One shudders to think what and where Malawi would have been by now had there been no attempt on Budget Director’s Mphwiyo’s  life. Looting of the fiscus would have continued unabated.  It is only because Mphwiyo’s shooting suddenly found its way into the public domain that Joyce Banda spurn into action.

For her to then turn around and declare herself a fighter of corruption simply because her administration has been exposed is not only laughable and unparalleled  dishonesty but  an insult to the intelligence of Malawians.

Lastly and once more, let me remind Joyce Banda that Malawi is not Zimbabwe and Malawians respond to political ineptitude and arrogance differently from what Zimbabweans do.  If Malawians don’t like how they are being governed, they will boldly show so regardless of the consequences unlike Zimbabweans who prefer to be stuck with a devil do nothing about him and only await divine intervention for salvation.

The long and short of it is that Joyce Banda has the responsibility as the sitting president to deliver to Malawians a free and fair election wherein Malawians chose their leadership unhindered devoid of any threats and shenanigans by NIKUV, MEC or whosoever.

If Malawians feel she is not the right Chief Executive the country needs to address the myriad of developmental challenges the country faces today she will have to accept and respect their choices. The choice to chose leadership is an inherent suffrage endowed in Malawians which neither NIKUV or Joyce Banda or anyone else for that matter can circumvent no matter what.

Any attempts to steal the polls are a recipe for disaster and will certainly back fire. The responsibility of an unbecoming situation resulting from ill-informed decisions and actions leading to a disputed or stolen poll will fall squarely on her shoulders and she should be prepared to face the rap and face the music then. Certainly such ill-informed actions will come back to haunt her until eternity.

  •  Majoti Chimuzanga is a concerned Malawian and writes in his personal capacity.

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