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Malawi’s judiciary shines in election case
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Malawi’s judiciary shines in election case

February 3, 2020, will go down as one of the most significant days in the history of Malawi, writes 28-year-old McLloyd Kudzingo, a Correspondent from Malawi. He argues that the landmark court decision on that day, which led to the nullification of the 2019 presidential election is proof of how much Malawi’s democracy has grown.

Since multiparty elections began in Malawi in 1994, this is the first time that a presidential election has been annulled by the judiciary and the second time in Africa that a court has given this kind of ruling in an election. In 2017, Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered a re-run of their election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta had been elected.

In Malawi, two leading opposition candidates who contested the 2019 presidential polls, Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Saulos Chilima of United Transformation Movement (UTM) challenged the May 21, 2019 results that saw the incumbent Peter Mutharika winning with a narrow margin.  According to the two, the election was tainted by irregularities.

After months of unrest, the long-awaited day finally came and the Constitutional Court nullified the results, citing “widespread, systematic and grave irregularities.” The five-judge Constitutional Court also ordered that fresh elections should take place within 150 days and that the Malawi Electoral Commission should foot the bills of the petitioners.

In May 2019, international election observers had declared Malawi’s elections peaceful, free, fair and credible. Given the major irregularities that were revealed during the trial, one wonders which elections these observers were observing.

Soon after the February 3 court ruling, Zambia’s main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema wrote on his Facebook page “The Malawian Judiciary has proved that laws can be applied evenly in protection of fundamental rights and tenements of democracy, against the repugnant and manipulative rules of carrots and sticks and illegal private gain, patronage and cronyism by government officials.”

Also commenting on the ruling was former President of Ghana, Dr Jerry Rawlings who said Malawi has proven to the whole world that it is governed by law.

Rawlings was quoted in the press as saying: “You may argue with me that such similar nullification has occurred before in Kenya. But I challenge that Malawi’s case is unprecedented. We are told that a sum of US$20 million was offered to the judges but they refused and decided to uphold the rule of law.”

“This is a clear manifestation that Malawi’s democracy has come of age, and as a Malawian, I am proud of that.”

Now let me join Africa and of course the world, in congratulating and applauding the judicial system in Malawi and the five fearless and professional judges in particular, for this landmark ruling. This is a historic moment for the people of Malawi and it has just shown judicial independence. This is a clear manifestation that Malawi’s democracy has come of age, and as a Malawian, I am proud of that.

A big mention should also go to the Malawi Defense Force which worked day and night to make sure that our citizens were protected. Let me also congratulate both the opposition and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaders and supporters for their show of unity and peace after the judgment.

I strongly believe that unity will help to drive the country forward. Malawians need to maintain law and order if we are to continue being the shining example of real democracy in Africa.

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Photo Credit: The Commonwealth’s Asset Bank

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About me: Hi, I am Luchelle Feukeng. Journalism is my passion. My dream is to become an international journalist. I like writing on everything that is related to ICT. I want to become the queen of the web through my writings. I think a computer and little effort are enough to change the world.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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