The only explanation I have heard which has a teeny-weeny bit of proximity to being rational for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s retention of Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje as Commissioners at the Electoral Commission is “continuity”.
In everyday conduct of business, maintaining a modicum of continuity does make sense.
Exceptions however exist. This, for instance, doesn’t mean an organization should stick to “continuity” when the continuity means continuing corrupt practices. In such a case, the continuity militates against unlearning lousy behaviour and inhibits new ways of doing things.
At any rate, continuity only works when the person(s) appointed to bridge the institutional knowledge gap have the right competences.
In MEC’s case, I posit that the unfortunate retention of Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje is nothing short of an act of sabotage and that were this idea championed by any party other than DPP, the word Peter Mutharika would have used is “treason”.
I will however stick to sabotage.
Look at it this way: like with everything to do with the fresh presidential election, DPP wants to sabotage the new commissioners’ determination to succeed where former commissioners, disastrously led by Justice Jane Ansah, failed.
Listening to the interviews of both Jean Mathanga and Linda Kunje disgracing Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (PAC) the other day, it was clear that these two were significant problems in the May 2019 election.
Uncooperative, evasive, taking themselves as mini-gods that can make or unmake parliamentarians, refusing to be held accountable, incapable of providing lucid responses to simple questions.
I could go on and on.
All the above are undesirable competences. They are not characteristics of truthful and trustworthy people who can conduct free, fair and credible elections.
As you all know, even before the two presented themselves to Parliament, the High Court had on February 3, 2020 duly conferred certificates of incompetence to them and their friends; a certification which was upheld if not upgraded by the highest court in the land.
Today, whenever I see these former now continuing commissioners, I take it that I am looking at publicly certified incompetents (PCIs).
It boggles the mind therefore how DPP decided that of all the DPP members, PCIs are its best contribution to the fresh election.
If this is what putting the best foot forward is in DPP’s philosophy, then I fear for Malawi because whether governing or in opposition, Malawi needs political parties capable of identifying and deploying their best talents.
Having said that, on behalf of the entire Talking Blues community, I heartily welcome Justice Chifundo Kachale.
The more astute of you will remember his name from the never-ending R v Bakili Muluzi & another, aka the MK1.7 billion case.
Based on his cool, calm and collected chairing over that case, this far, I have only respect for the new MEC chairperson.
I hope he will make my respect last and if humanly possible, double it.
The first problem I see is that DPP has given him a poisoned chalice by soiling his commission with PCIs.
His second problem is the MEC Secretariat. Established to attend to administrative matters and support the Commissioners, it is filled to the brim with dubious characters.
For a start, the Chief Elections Officer Mr Sam Alfandika is on record for failing to provide answers to simple questions. Now, for a CEO to fail to give clear and coherent answers is unacceptable anywhere.
In court Blues Orators it means he is hiding something. Why? Because he is either afraid of self-incrimination or he wishes to protect someone, in return for something.
This is the feeling everyone got when watching Mr Alfandika giving something akin to testimony in the Constitutional Court.
With his behaviour, would I allow Mr Alfandika to conduct elections at my mphakati (Church community)? Over my dead body.
I will, therefore, be astonished if Justice Kachale fails to use his powers as Chairperson to immediately ensure that Alfandika is told in no uncertain terms to stay as far away as practically possible from anything to do with the June 23 election and indeed shown the exit door.
Save for exercising his right to vote, Alfandika shouldn’t be allowed to linger in the vicinity of MEC or at any polling station or near any electoral premises.
Only if Justice Kachale’s wants his hitherto unblemished CV to start collecting mud will he allow himself to wallow with pigs.
To put it in plain words: Honorable Justice Kachale, fire Mr Alfandika yesterday!
This is not to imply that save for Alfandika, everyone else at MEC is perfect, no. There are plenty of wolves in wolfskins at MEC. At various levels and grades. In many departments. Including criminals who for a price, will sell any election without a care.
For now, however, it is enough to send Mr Alfandika back to the labour office; the rest will be dealt with once a commission of enquiry is conducted to establish what exactly:
• Has led to Malawi taxpayers paying twice to elect a president;
• Contributed to the ill-advised decision to appeal and hire SA lawyers at an extortionate price; and
• Has robbed MEC all vestiges of credibility when MEC is supposed to carry the sacred duty akin to that of the Biblical Samuel in the days of old.
Talking of Prophet Samuel, imagine if you will that he was some compromised character, suspected of bribe-taking and a slothful fellow whose every undertaking was costing the people double or triple as much.
Further, suppose this character could not provide straight answers to the simplest of questions without copiously sweating. Would anyone have taken him seriously?
Would you have taken him seriously?
If your answer is No, then;
• Why is Sam Alfandika still at the MEC?
• What are we paying him for?
• Whose interests is he serving?
• When is the new Chairperson firing him?
I, therefore, reiterate that Mr Sam Alfandika must be fired or asked to resign with effect from last week. Yesterday is not soon enough if Malawians are to trust the outcome of June 23.
By the way, could someone let Mr Sangwani Mwafulirwa know that we are still waiting for a lucid explanation on why he couldn’t notify stakeholders in time that the plane carrying some voting materials from China would arrive earlier than scheduled?
Please also advise Mr Sangwani Mwafulirwa to inform the new Chairperson that this shady way of doing things is yet another reason why Alfandika needed to go, by last week.
It is not too late; he must go, NOW! NOW! NOW!