Chamisa calls for reforms in African elections

MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa has lamented over the electoral crises that Africa faces and called for reforms and creation of mechanisms that will ensure that elections are free and fair.

Chamisa told Zim Morning Post on Wednesday that rigging and manipulation of votes was the source of instability in Africa.

“The will of the people must be respected and Africa must create mechanisms for free and fair elections whose results are honoured by the competing parties.

“Regional blocs like African Union (AU) and SADC must create continental masterplans whose ingredient is free and fair elections.

“These unions must be unions of helping people, not unions of oppressors, they must be unions of citizens, not unions of leaders only,” said Chamisa.

The youthful politician fired a salvo at the recently held Malawi elections which saw Peter Mutharika retaining presidency in controversial circumstances.

The election was marred by allegations of rigging and it was a two-horse-race between Mutharika and the revived Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led by Reverend Lazarus Chakwera .

“Reports coming from Malawi were shocking, such primitive methods of rigging are unacceptable.

“One wonders why there is no appetite for learning the good from a near perfect conduct of elections in South Africa.

“Its high time Africa moves from strong man to strong institutions mentality.

“We must not continue to be a continent of problems but a continent of solutions.

“Malawi pulled a Zimbabwe” said Chamisa who hailed the high levels of democracy and tolerance displayed in the South African elections.

The lack of honest,  free and fair elections have been a threat to democracy and a  major issue for the future of the African continent. The ad-hoc responses to individual electoral crises are clearly insufficient.

The international focus on the actual conduct of elections through the deployment of observers and monitors is also insufficient. The AU in its Constitutive Act of 2000 is formally committed to the promotion of democracy, but it has done little in practice to turn this into reality.

Reports of dubious tactics to turn the   election results in ruling party DPP’s favour in Malawi easily comes to mind.

Senior advisor at New York based International Peace Institute John Hirsh blamed long dynastic rules by African leaders who cling to power for decades and undermine democratic principles.

“Long dynastic rules in Gabon, Togo, Senegal, Cameroon, and, until recently, in Egypt and Libya, have also contributed to the failure of democracy on the continent of Africa

“The continued rule of the same individual or family for decades, often with a bogus election to validate their continuation in office, has further discredited the principles of democracy in Africa,” submitted Hirsh.