SADC lawyers weigh in on Malawi election debacle

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Mpho Tebele

 

Gaborone - The Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association (SADC-LA) has lauded the ruling of the Malawi Constitutional Court in the 2019 electoral petition.

 The chief executive officer of the SADC-LA, Stanley Nyamanhindi, said the association joins progressive forces on the African continent, civic society and the people of Malawi in celebrating a demonstration of strongly embedded rule of law and constitutional democracy.

“A beacon of hope in the midst of so much despair as seen in the suffering of many an ordinary African citizen has been lit. The Malawi Constitutional Court has ruled that fresh elections be held in Malawi due to irregularities that marred the 21 May 2019 elections,” he said.

Nyamanhindi said the electoral petition outcome presents a clarion call to SADC and her citizens to tend to the ensuing process to an outcome that presents real change for the lives of ordinary citizens in Malawi, and not just to merely deliver a free and fair election in the next 149 says.

Following the court ruling, the Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his statement preceding the judgment, encouraged Malawians across the board to respect the outcome of the court ruling.

“SADC-LA further exhorts its office and the SADC to put in place measures to guarantee implementation of the court decision in letter and spirit. Not only before and during the polling period but most importantly, after the elections,” said Nyamanhindi.

In Malawi indeed as in all SADC member states, he said, SADC must now take the opportunity to maintain vigilant peer review of government’s commitment to honouring its pledges to the electorate and to deliver real positive socio-economic impact to the lives of the most vulnerable citizens of SADC.

He said while good laws and strong constitutions are a pre-requisite for democratic electoral processes and outcomes, SADC-LA takes this recent occurrence in Malawi as evidence that laws are complete only when used by responsible citizens through strong institutions to demand accountability of government.

 

“Malawians are to be credited for their unified vision and voice in demanding justice through the courts. With no need to explore the merits, it is clear that the Malawian judiciary has taken a stance that not many African judiciaries have taken before against incumbency,” said Nyamanhindi.

He urged citizens and all state arms to maintain key awareness of the fact that not only must accountability and transparency be demanded of elections but of the whole exercise of

the electoral mandate by governments before, during and most critically after elections.

In his statement, Mnangagwa said the regional bloc acknowledged the decision of the Constitutional Court of Malawi that was delivered on 3 February 2020, which nullified the results of the Presidential Election held on 21 May 2019. SADC noted that the Constitutional Court also ordered that a fresh election be held within 150 days.

“SADC commends the Constitutional Court for upholding the Malawian Constitution, and the electoral law in the conduct of the petition. SADC urges all stakeholders to respect the judgment of the Constitutional Court, and maintain peace and tranquillity, whilst the relevant national institutions prepare for fresh elections,” reads the statement.

Mnangagwa added that “SADC will continue to support the Republic of Malawi in the election process, as guided by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, and will remain seized with the developments in Malawi.”

 

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