The Malawi top court nullified that country’s 2019 elections. This issue is particularly relevant in Namibia as our Supreme Court this week, slammed various illegalities involved in the decision to run the November 2019 elections using EVMs with no paper trail, but declined to nullify the elections as a remedy.
The Opposition Party in Malawi had suspicions that elections were rigged to favour Peter Mutharika, who was the incumbent president at the time of elections. Opposition supporters complained that there were many irregularities and alleged that many tally sheets were altered using correction fluid. This is daylight corruption in that country’s elections. I understand why a lot of Malawians were not happy with it.
The protestors in our SADC neighbouring country set off to fight the corrupt system. They wanted to be heard and they stopped at nothing to fight the corruption. According to a video on Al Jazeera, there have been demonstrations for months since the elections, especially in the capital, Lilongwe. The police used force to disperse the protestors, but they didn’t go because they wanted to be heard. Finally on Monday, February 3rd, their demonstrations paid off.
I couldn’t help but wonder, why can’t Namibians do the same and stand up for their democratic rights? It is no secret that the previous elections turned a lot of heads because a few people had suspicions that they were rigged. The entire court challenge by the independent candidate Panduleni Itula was provoked because the EVMs had no paper trail and by law, they were supposed to. How do we even know the reported results are correct with no verifiable paper trail?
There were reports of electronic voting machines beeping and registering votes when no one casted a vote, EVMs mysteriously going missing at polling stations and the incumbent president prematurely celebrating his victory before he even found out he won. I think there was corruption in front of our very own eyes, but we ignored it and now, prepare to swear in ‘elected leaders’ as we live in denial.
It is so sad to think that we call ourselves a democratic country but do not follow the democratic principles as recognized worldwide. How can an election happen with key things not in place? Each election the ECN is blasted for being incompetent, but the errors continue. Now what? What is even more disturbing is that people in power promise us things and fail to deliver most of them, and we let them get away with this. A good example of this is when president Geingob declared that 2019 would be “a Year of Accountability”. He said, and I quote:
“We reduced wastage in the public sector. We also decided to investigate various serious cases of alleged corruption. Ministers who are alleged to be corrupt were questioned, and those cases are now with the anti-corruption commission.”
Judging by all the things that have happened over the past year, we can’t say 2019 was a year of accountability. I think this is where the concept “talk is cheap” comes into play. What accountability was there in the way our president handled the major corruption scandal in the country last year? Last year Namibia experienced Fishrot - a corruption scandal like never before. Cabinet ministers were caught red-handed in the middle of a massive corruption and money laundering scheme. The president was silent while the country was broken by what the ministers did. He even criticized the ministers who did speak out and condemn the Fishrot corruption. He told them to keep quiet and not speak their minds. Is that being open and transparent with the public? Is that being accountable? I don’t think so.
As if our president didn’t make us enough empty promises last year, he goes on and declares that 2020 is the “Year of Introspection”. I can’t believe anything he says on this matter.
One of the many things he said was that “In the fishing sector, where fishermen lost their jobs as a consequence of mismanagement, we have heard and have immediately started remedial action.”
First of all the fishermen didn’t lose their jobs because of “mismanagement,” They lost their jobs because of corruption! Let us not call a spade a spoon. I do not accept such words. How is the president accountable when he doesn’t want to say the word ‘corruption’, ‘greed’ or ‘theft’ and instead, slides over the matter and says it was just, ‘mismanagement?’
How many more empty promises do we need before we take a stand? Let us stand up for our democratic rights and fight corruption. It’s not too late.