Saturday, February 7, 2009

Of Presidential Candidates and Running Mates

This has been a very interesting week for Malawi. After a game of hide and seek, the presidential contenders have finally revealed their hands and declared their running mates.
I must confess I have been gripped by the events as they have unfolded this week. It is moments like these that I miss being at home.
Just my two tambala's worth on the process:
1. I feel the electoral commission needs to come up with a better system of submissions for the presidential candidates. as the system currently stands, it gives a slight (emphasis intended) to the candidate that is last to present their nomination papers. Considering the secretive nature of these processes, the candidate who presents their papers last has a chance to change his/her ticket as a response to the choices of the earlier candidates.They could all come together and present their papers at the same time (am sure there are ways to prevent chaos and any violence in such circumstances - wasn't this the way it was done in 1994?)
2. Talking of secrets, I have been bemused by how all the major parties not only stage-managed the selection of their presidential candidates, but also how they have been united in the secretive nature of choosing their running mates. wouldn't it be better for the candidates to go to their conventions and contest for the presidential ticket with a running mater already in place? this way, a very strong candidate does not end up choosing their son / wife / brother etc as their running mate.
3. As regards the candidature of former President Muluzi, that is now up to the Electoral Commission now to make a decision. Suffice it to say my own interpretation of section 83(3) - the presidential term limits is influenced less by the letter of the law and more by the 'spirit' behind the provision. But even looking at the letter of the law, I fail to read : a "Maximum of two consecutive terms" in any other way but to say a maximum of two terms, one following the other. No more.
Otherwise, I feel we have a strong field of candidates, all of whom in my view have the qualities to lead our beautiful country. The field of running mates is equally strong, and all of them are patriotic Malawians that can step into the shoes of the presidency if required. No one will have an excuse for not going to exercise their right to vote.
I just hope the candidates will demonstrate a level of maturity in the campaign and focus on issues rather than character assassination. It is time our democracy is built around issues, not personalities or emotions. May the best team win!