Could smartphones help reduce electoral fraud in Africa and in other regions? At a recent forum hosted by the Brookings Institution on the ways that wireless technologies are affecting politics in various countries, Clark Gibson, a professor at the University of California, San Diego (USCD), presented findings from experiments in Afghanistan and Uganda which suggest that they can.
Local researchers were deployed to polling stations armed with digital cameras and smartphones to take photographs of the publicly posted election tallies. The research found that this alone can cut electoral fraud by up to 60%
If technology will help us curb fraud, then, there is one thing technology will not hinder us from doing and this is, voting on tribal lines.
Kikuyus in Kenya, who constitute 22% of the population, propelled Uhuru Kenyatta into power. Conceal it we may, elections in Malawi depict a pattern of ethnic/tribal patronages and not necessarily on the basis of national and development policies.
In Malawi, like in most of African democracies, we deviate from the western democracies in the sense that our political parties determine their strongholds based on ethnic and regional loyalties.
Although Malawians downplay ethnicity when portraying themselves, they are less generous in their judgment of fellow citizens. We can reveal that Malawians do not easily trust co-nationals who hail from ethnic groups other than their own.
In Malawi, voting is on tribal lines. Our analysis proves that 2014 will be worse. It may well be that, while voters would prefer to vote on issues rather than identities, they worry that their opponents will not do the same.
If a leader will not have the support of his/her own tribe no other tribe will trust that one. The tribal population by percentage is as below;
Using the above figures central region alone can produce a winning President. Central region is the stronghold of the Malawi Congress Party. John Tembo, the MCP leader is less trusted because of his age hence making Central region a battle field. Every party wants a share there.
Atupele has camped there, Peoples Party’s Cassim Chilumpha has camped there, Kamuzu Chibambo is there and Peter Mtharika literally travels in a minibus in Lilongwe. So you can see how important the region is.
The Lomwes seem to be hell bent on their DPP, they make up 17.6% of the population. If DPP can get some votes in the central region it would put them on top of the pendulum box. It is an open secret that Mangochi or the eastern region as it is popularly known is a Muslim dominated area. Joyce Banda knows that in the Muslim world a man is the leader hence Atupele gets the votes. We are not surprised to see Joyce Banda campaigning heavily in this region.
The northern region’s contribution to the Presidency’s vote is very insignificant because of the percentages as seen above; however, the north will add value to the elections through MPs.
Voting on tribal patterns is not strange in Africa. In Kenya, Kenyatta’s coalition with former Raila Odinga’s ally, Isaac Ruto, helped in bringing some votes to the President elect’s side as Kenyans voted on tribal lines with Ruto bringing a valid swathe of voters from his ethnic Kalenjin to add to Uhuru’s votes.
0-14 years: 44.9% (male 3.7million; female 3.7 million)
15-24 years: 20% (male 1.7million; female 1.7million)
25-54 years 28.3% (male 2.3million; female 2.3million)
55-64 years 3.6% (male 263 000; female 320 000)
65 + years 2.7% (male187 000; female 252 000)
Politics is a game of winners and losers it is only by participating that one has a greater chance of getting something.
In order to get what you want one has to know who will push him/her to the top. In case of Malawi, it is the youth.
The figures above show that Malawi is dominated by the youth. These are the ones who will vote in 2014. Atupele is excelling easily amongst the youth not necessarily with facts but rather with age. The other leaders who are above 60 should really do their homework right by finding ways of pulling the youth to their side.
Message to the youth
Voting is a tremendous gift. Voting is a responsibility and an action that every member of society must partake in. It is because of this that we urge the youth to vote and vote wisely, to vote intelligently and to provide your parents and future families with a safe, secure and healthy environment. Based on the figures above, our country’s future is in your (the youth) hands.
We estimate that 45% of the population will qualify to vote by next year and 55% will not as these will be ages between 0-14 and some very old people.
To support our point on tribal voting, we will settle on Bingu Wamtharika’s choice in 2009. Bingu had Dr Jean Kalilani as his running mate even though some people were thinking of Godall Gondwe and Chimunthu Banda, no! It was Kalirani. Bingu knew that even though it was not correct to have 2 people from the same region, he still had to do it because of numbers from the Lomwes and the Yaos(Joyce Banda’s base)
So, we advise political parties to be cautious when choosing their running mates. It is not about names. It is about the numbers your running mate will put in the basket.
We the Timau Crew would like to caution northerners. People in the north have got blind loyalty. They think they are clever but when it comes to political matters they are not. They have got very poor decision making. They have blindly been on the lead in supporting all leaders in Malawi but get the worst whips from them.
We urge northerners to pray for the right leader this time.
As Malawi is struggling to improve Adult literacy levels, the general understanding of political issues has improved. There are a lot of private radio stations which are telling Malawians nothing but the truth. There are non governmental organisations which are civic educating Malawians on how to choose a right candidate.
We therefore ask aspiring presidents to dwell on national and developmental policies if they are to carry the day in 2014.
In addition, we the Timau crew want all political parties to be able to freely contest the election.
Finally, Could smartphones help reduce electoral fraud in Africa and in other regions? We say yes but for ethnic /tribal voting it will take time and not in 2014 for Malawians to stop from voting on tribal lines. The political environment the country is in now is the more reason why we stick to our argument and we say, let the truth be told during the 2014 elections.