Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has emphasized the need for the country to have an independent tribunal which will be dealing post-elections issues decisively rather than political parties’ disputes end up seeking solace in the media and courts.
The observation comes as some quarters of the society are calling complete overhaul of the country’ electoral laws reforms including 51% as the overall vote for the wining president.
Justice Maxon Mbendera, Mec’s Chairperson made the remarks on Monday, September 7, 2015 in Blantyre during the official opening of the five-day training on Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE).
BRIDGE training has attracted participants from Mec commissioners, management, secretary generals of political parties, and African Union Commission’s officials among others in a bid to equip them with skills on electoral dispute resolutions.
Justice Mbendera said the training was part of preparatory work a head of 2019 general elections that political parties are glued to principles of democracy.
“Elections are a struggle and race to get power and disputes are bound to occur. In other countries like Kenya, have a tribunal on dispute resolution that is mandated to look into disputes among electoral stakeholders: disputes between political parties and the electoral body, disputes between the political party and another party and disputes between a party and its members.
“Malawi doesn’t have such a tribunal and when disputes arose between political parties and the Commission leave a lot to be desired. When there are disputes between political parties, often times tend to seek solace in the courts and the media.
“When there are disputes between political parties and members, we rely on the internal party mechanism to sort them out, if not then the courts. This scenario, therefore, gives us more reasons why we should have this training today”, explains Mbendera.
Echoing on the same, Dr.Salif Sada Sall, The Head of African Union Southern Region Office for African Union Commission said trainings was part of African Union Commission’s follow-up on recommendations program which aims at helping election management bodies and national actors to implement which were made by both domestic and international observers during the last elections-2014 tripartite elections.
Dr Sall said African Union Commission was mandated to ensure that electoral commissions in Africa have the capacity to manage their elections hence an emphasis on technical assistance such as the BRIDGE Training program.
“The African Union, together with other international organizations, observed the Malawi’s 2014 tripartite elections and at the end of the mission made a number of recommendations aimed at enhancing the electoral process. It is important that most of those recommendations be implemented before the next elections.
“Building the capacity election management bodies either before or after election, is clear demonstration of the commitment of the Africa Union Commission to go beyond elections observation missions to ensure that Member States’ Election Management Bodies have the necessary capacity to organize credible elections and hence support democratic consolidation on the African continent.
“To achieve this objective, the African Union Commission through its Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit has provided BRIDGE Training in more than 20 African Union Member States since 2011. For example in 2014, the Africa Union Commission provided BRIDGE Trainings for the electoral commissions of Burkina Faso, Madagascar, and United Republic of Tanzania, Cameroon, and Cote d’Ivoire.
This year, in addition to Malawi, in collaboration with our partner, International IDEA, the African Union Commission will provide BRIDGE trainings in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Sao Tome and Principe, among others. A BRIDGE Train the Facilitator course has been completed last two weeks in the Kingdom of Lesotho.
“It is the expectation of the African Union Commission that Member States who benefit from these training will put them to good use and make sure that participants who are trained will be given the opportunity to put the newly acquired skills to use at the workplace.
The trainings in themselves will not bring the needed change unless the trainees are given the opportunity to use their skills”, challenges Dr. Sall.