Malawi poll fiasco courts criticism
Lusaka – The disputed outcome of the Malawian general elections by incumbent President Joyce Banda has attracted criticism from several interest groups across the globe, with former Zambian president Rupiah Banda urging the leadership to concede defeat in order to avoid chaos, as well as urging SADC to console the losers.
Reports from Malawi indicate that incumbent Banda has refused to accept the outcome of the May 20 poll results claiming vote rigging by the opposition political parties and has directed that fresh polls be held, which was subsequently rejected by elections authority and the judiciary.
The High Court of Malawi has also rejected calls to annul the election results, however, reports from that country indicate the court has granted an order for the recount of the hotly contested presidential results by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Before elections descended into chaos, Peter Mutharika, brother to the late president Bingu Wa Mutharika, was leading by 42 percent with Banda trailing in second place with 28 percent of the total votes cast.
Zambia’s fourth president, Rupiah Banda (76), has advised incumbent President Joyce Banda to concede defeat and move on if she has lost the elections in order to prevent the tobacco-producing nation from descending into further chaos.
Speaking to the media in Lusaka on Africa Day, Banda who equally lost elections barely three years after assuming office in similar fashion following the death of incumbent president Levy Mwanawasa, said politicians participate in elections “either to win or lose” and it is important to accept defeat when one loses.
“Joyce Banda should learn from a stupid man like myself,” the former president said.
“The most important thing is that once you have had elections, learn from this stupid man Rupiah. When you have elections, and you have lost, especially if you were in government, concede and proceed as we have done in our country. We go to the elections to win or lose.”
Banda added that he was magnanimous enough to concede defeat when he lost the 2011 general elections to President Michael Sata
“The outcome of an election should be respected by all politicians because it represents the will of citizens and that politicians have time to campaign and convince citizens to vote for them and their vote should be accepted,” he said.
Banda added that although he does not know the exact outcome of the elections in Malawi, politicians should understand that there is always a winner and a loser in any election.
The MEC had earlier announced that Banda’s rival candidate Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was leading elections, which many commentators suspect was the reason behind Banda’s attempt at nullifying the presidential elections.
She cried foul that the process was marred by rigging, multiple voting and computer-hacking, an allegation that has been widely criticised by various interest groups, including the Catholic Bishops of Malawi and the judiciary.
Zambia’s veteran politician and former secretary general for Movement for Multiparty Democracy, Vernon Mwaanga, has supported his countryman stance on Malawi and called on African leaders to respect democratic processes in their respective countries.
According to Mwaanga, it was detrimental for politicians not to accept election results.
“African leaders who participate in elections must learn to accept the results of the elections representing the will of the people,” he said in a statement, adding that politicians should not regard elections as free and fair only when they win.
“Procrastinating in accepting election outcomes is a recipe for chaos,” Mwaanga added. With a call to Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to consider helping Malawi resolve its election problems.
In a related development, Mwaanga has commended South African President Jacob Zuma for appointing 15 women in his 35-member new cabinet.