BY RIGHT HONORABLE DR. LAZARUS CHAKWERA,
PRESIDENT OF MALAWI CONGRESS PARTY.
FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2019
10 days ago, you each woke up at dawn and stood in a long line for hours to exercise one of the most sacred rights you have as a citizen: the right to vote.
I am proud of the way you conducted yourselves as voters on that day, for your conduct was peaceful, orderly, and lawful. You did this because you trusted that those competing for your votes and those tallying and tabulating your votes would likewise act lawfully.
In short, you went to cast your vote believing that your vote would be counted correctly, fairly, honestly, and openly.
Tragically, within 48 hours of voting, it became obvious that the tabulation of your votes was being manipulated in broad daylight.
When I saw this injustice, I could not be silent. I spoke out publicly against this blatant effort to rig the elections and subvert your sovereign will as Malawians.
I did this hoping that the Malawi Electoral Commission would respond by catching the perpetrators and addressing the irregularities I highlighted. Sadly, the alarm I raised fell on deaf ears. In fact, the Malawi Electoral Commission seemed to react to my cry for justice by becoming defensive and combative, assuring us that all was well and that there was nothing to worry about.
Thanks to your vigilance and unceasing prayers, it took only 12 hours for the whole world to see that MEC’s public assurance that no rigging would happen was an empty promise. This happened when an officer of MEC itself was arrested in Nsanje for tampering with result sheets for multiple polling centers. That same day, I sent a delegation of MCP officials to MEC to lodge a verbal complaint in person, followed by a written complaint about multiple polling centers where similar acts of fraud had been observed. When we saw that there was no response from MEC after two nights, we had no choice but to turn to the High Court, which issued a stay order stopping MEC from announcing any presidential results until our complaints had been addressed.
To everyone’s shock, instead of responding to the court order by addressing our complaints, MEC responded by partnering its lawyers with DPP lawyers to lift the court order so that the presidential results could be announced without resolving our complaints. MEC then launched a smear campaign against us by publicly claiming that we never even submitted any complaints to them in the first place. And so, on Monday night, during a regular press briefing by the Chair of the Malawi Electoral Commission, we all learned from her that our court order had been lifted, well before our lawyers had even been informed. Twenty minutes later, she reappeared with a statement that had already been fully prepared to declare Mutharika the winner of the 2019 Elections.
- What we have witnessed in front of our very eyes is not an election, but daylight robbery, a crime against our decency as a people and our democracy as a nation.
- I know that most of you have mourned for our nation in the face of this crime, and so have I, but tears are not enough.
- I know that many of you feel angry at the failure of our institutions to serve our national interests, but anger is not enough.
- I know that some of you have already tried to take the law into your own hands by rioting and causing social unrest, but the lawlessness of mob justice will not solve the lawlessness of electoral injustice.
- I know that some of you have even considered giving up voting altogether. But giving up our rights as citizens only emboldens the wrongs of criminals.
We have come to a moment in our history when we must make a choice. Either we sit back as our country is ruled by thieves who have stolen an election as a license to steal our taxes, or we can stand up to stop this mafia state once and for all.
Today, I want to tell you where I stand between these two choices:
- I, Lazarus Chakwera, reject MEC’s fraudulent presidential results, and I join all Malawians in rejecting that MEC’s declaration of Mutharika as the winner represents the will of Malawians who cast their votes.
- For this reason, pursuant to Section 114 (1) and (3d) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, and having gathered overwhelming evidence of gross violations of the Act, I have started filing a petition to the High Court of Malawi to nullify MEC’s presidential results and declare the presidential elections of May 21, 2019 void.
Initially, I had also considered applying to the court to stop the swearing in ceremony and inauguration. However, I decided that this would not be in the best interest of the country because the protracted absence of a President and Cabinet would disturb the state’s service provision and cause millions of innocent Malawians to suffer.
Still, I am aware that the DPP’s illegal ascension to the presidency has already started to inflict suffering on innocent Malawians. As I speak, dozens of civil servants, soldiers, and police officers are being unceremoniously transferred from urban areas to the remotest rural areas for simply supporting MCP or for coming from regions where most people voted for MCP. In addition, dozens of young people in the Central Region have recently been arrested and MCP offices have been raided and teargassed without provocation by cadets masquerading as police officers. These are the lawless acts of a mafia state, and it is imperative that we end this state capture by thieves in order to end these abuses and ensure that those committing them face the law.
In the meantime, if you know someone who has been unjustly transferred, beaten, or arrested, please support them. If you yourself witnessed acts of fraud by MEC officials during the election, please report your testimony to our Head Office for inclusion in our petition to the High Court. If you served as an election monitor of any party and have in your possession copies of result sheets, I ask you to make those available to us so that the truth can be known. If you lead an organization that wishes to stand up for justice, I urge you to come out in the open and take part in this case as friends of the court. And if you are angry and heartbroken because your vote was not counted properly, I call on you, regardless of your party, to join thousands of us who will march peacefully to the High Court from the day the hearing starts to the day it is concluded.
This election has laid bare the corruption that has contaminated all our governance institutions. The corruption done in this election is an indictment on all of us, whether we are citizens who have allowed it to be done in our name or foreigners who have watched it happen in our face. We have all colluded to create a society in which thieving is a rewarding trade, and so all of us must stand up together to fix it NOW. This is no longer a struggle for MCP to form a government or for me to be President. It is clear from the rigging of this election that this is a struggle for Malawi to be free. This is a struggle for all of us.
So, I look forward to seeing you all at the High Court when the hearing starts, so that Mutharika may see that he is operating illegally and on borrowed time. The people who stole this election for him were expecting that once he gets sworn in and inaugurated, their crimes will be buried, the money they have been paid will be hidden, and we will all give up on reclaiming our stolen rights and votes while we suffer in silence for another five years. They have even started spreading lies that MCP is now divided, hoping that this will stop us from uniting to claim our country back. But we will now show them that it is they who are mistaken and they who are about to be scattered.
This is the resolve that unites us: For Malawi to rise, Mutharika must fall.
God bless Malawi.