The Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace [CCJP] says it is dismayed by the incessant occurrence of political and electoral violence the deficiencies in intra-party democracy and the lack of compliance with Covid-19 preventive measures by political parties and politicians during campaigns in the build up to the 30th March 2021 by-elections.
The CCJP says it is strongly feel that these are critical challenges to political governance which may have adverse implications on political governance, human rights enjoyment and public health if left unchecked.
The organization claims that they have closely observed with concern elements of political violence in some areas ahead of the by-elections in seven constituencies and two wards scheduled for 30th March 2021 by-elections.
In a statement dated 18th March 2021 signed by its National Coordinator, Boniface Chibwana, the CCJP says the recent political violence in Nsanje Central Constituency cannot be tolerated, this is a clear indication that more should be done to promote peace building in order to enhance political tolerance, peaceful coexistence and social cohesion especially during election times.
The CCJP expressed hope that it is its expectation that political authorities and the national leadership would consider the Covid-19 pandemic a significant governance, democracy and human rights issues beyond the health and economic considerations.
…”It is unfortunate and deplorable that ahead of the by-elections, political parties and political candidates have total disregard of Covid-19 preventive measures in spite of the havoc caused by the pandemic on the Malawi society…,’’ reads the statement in part.
The CCJP says in their considered view, the holding of mass rallies and assembling large numbers of people with complete disregard of preventive measures against Covid-19, is not morally wrong but also demonstrates lack of consideration of the public interest or the common good.
The statement adds such bad behavior by the country’s political leaders makes the already difficult job of health workers of promoting public compliance with Covid-19 regulations and preventive measures even more difficult if not impossible.
The CCJP is therefore recommending MEC should closely monitor political campaigns take necessary action on political candidates and political groupings that are breaching Covid-19 regulations, reminding them that every person has a right to choose a leader of their choice and it is encouraging people to come out in large numbers to exercise their voting right in choosing representatives they want.
The statement says while commending the MEC for strongly condemning recent cases of political violence, imploring on the electoral management body to meet their deterrent punitive measures to political candidates perpetrating violence, the CCJP says as a nation, it must align its policies and laws with the prevailing realities.
The CCJP is recommending the Malawi Police Service [MPS] to conduct thoroughly and effective investigation on all the criminal elements surrounding political violence, ensure perpetrators face the law and they should urgently act on political actors who are defying Covid-19 regulations and all other actors’ who commit the same crime.
By Vincent Gunde