The last few months has been a full on presidential election campaign here in Malawi. There are around 12 presidential candidates, one of whom is the incumbent, Joyce Banda. Voting took place this last Tuesday, 20th May. More than one African friend has expressed concern that such elections are an imposed system, and that the results do not warrant the process.
About three weeks ago an email went around Concern Universal advising all staff that the Tuesday was a public holiday, and that the office would also be closed on Wednesday. Staff were though encouraged to take off the whole week as part of their holidays. Monday 19th was a quiet day, though there was a palpable sense of anticipation around town. The traffic that evening was the worst I’ve seen it, verging on gridlock. The lady who takes cheese orders on a Tuesday and delivers on a Thursday sent a text to say she was going to deliver a day early this week. On Tuesday (polling day) there were some disturbances in an area about 5km from us due to administrative foul ups at the polling booths. A place near to an AVI persons workplace was stoned, and thus they decided to shut up business for the week. Wednesday was calm, likewise this Thursday morning. The visiting Australian Commissioner sends an email inviting any AVI people in town to a catch up.
Last night one of the leading candidates house was raided with allegations of electoral fraud being raised. The newspaper headlines say the result is 50-50. Concern Universal is open again, and we planned to return to work, however AVI have instructed us to remain at the house. Apparently a press conference is due to be called at any time and the results announced. There is plenty of speculation as to what might be the outcome of whatever announcement is made, but with so many intangibles and indeterminates, nobody knows. It all reminds me of being in Victoria on a Code Red day, the only certainty is that something might happen.