Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Election Petition
I remember the day very well. It was Thursday 13th September in the year 2013, and the Supreme Court was convened for yet another day, listening to a petition from the Mad Militia Delinquency claiming that the General Election of August 2011 had not been free and fair. Beside me sat my old friend Dr Mankhwala Sangoma.
Addressing the court was a lawyer wearing an empty black suit and a wig made from a horse’s bottom. He rocked back and forth on his feet as he addressed the Chief Injustice. Inside the empty suit lay the stinking remains of the dreaded Red-Lipped Snake.
‘M’Lord,’ the Red-Lipped Snake was saying, ‘I have presented incontrovertible evidence to this court that the MMD spent billions of taxpayers money bribing voters with bags of sugar, in a desperate attempt to prevent our legitimate government being overthrown by subversive elements within the Psychiatric Fiasco, otherwise known as Pabwato.’
The Chief Injustice, who had apparently been asleep until this point, opened one eye at the mention of the word bribe, a topic in which he had a well known private interest.
‘Yes, M’Lord,’ hissed the snake, encouraged by this sign of interest from the Chief Injustice, ‘we have always been willing to pay handsomely to any patriot who is brave enough to stand up to the subversive behaviour of Pabwato.’
‘Hurray!’ shouted the crowd from the floor of the court. ‘The Chief Injustice needs a bag of dollars, not a bag of sugar!’
‘Silence in court,’ shouted the Chief Injustice, as the crowd rolled around on the floor laughing. ‘How can the MMD ask me to nullify the election on account of rampant bribery, when – on their own admission – it was the MMD doing the bribing?’
A sneer now distorted the ugly red lips of the snake. ‘M’Lord,’ he said, bowing in mock humility, ‘may I refer you to the judgement in the petition brought by Mr MMD Mufumbushi after the Mufondo by-election of 2010, where MMD complained that he lost the election because he brought in ten busloads of thugs to terrorise the entire electorate. Judge Musoposopo ruled in favour of MMD, saying the by-election had not been free and fair because of MMD thuggery, and therefore annulled the election result.’
‘I am obliged to my learned colleague for such an amusing story,’ replied the Chief Injustice, now rousing himself from his slumber. ‘And may I prevail upon my learned colleague to go even further, and advise the court by giving us some hint of the relevance of this parable to the present proceedings.’
‘I just thought that the court might recognize a legal precedent,’ said the Red-lipped Snake, his face twisted with sarcasm, ‘that a losing candidate may have an election result overturned on ground of election malpractice, even though he was the one guilty of the malpractice.’
Now the Chief Injustice rubbed his hands together and licked his lips with undisguised glee. ‘I must congratulate my learned friend on finding such a precedent. But unfortunately I have to advise him that he has entirely misunderstood the precedent. What the precedent actually tells us is that a losing candidate may expect a favourable judgment if he is a member of the ruling party. But since your client is the president of a party which is no longer the ruling party, your precedent actually means that you will need evidence that the other party cheated.’
‘Well if that’s the case,’ answered the Snake, his red lips curling in derision, ‘I have plenty of evidence that Pabwato won by dubious means. For example, when we gave the voters bags of mealie-meal to vote for us, Pabwato told them to accept the bribe but vote PF. This was a clear breach of the Law of Contract.
‘Also, knowing that we were buying voters cards, Pabwato printed fake cards for us to buy, therefore breaking the Law on Counterfeiting and also the Law on Trade Description.
‘And when we bought mobile polling stations from China, and hid them where only our party members could find them, the devious Pabwato employed a Global Positioning Satellite to locate the polling stations, thereby contravening the Official Secrets Act and endangering the security of the government…’
‘From what I have heard,’ said the Chief Injustice, ‘it seems that you have established a prima facie case against the MMD for election rigging. I adjourn this hearing until Thursday next week, when I shall consider whether to commit the former president of the MMD to the International Court of Justice in...’
But as he spoke, into the room ambled a burly figure in a big blue shirt and a John Wayne hat, followed by a mob of thugs who hit out at the crowd with their knobkerries.
‘It’s Nyamasoya and his thugs,’ I whispered to Sangoma.
Nyamasoya walked up to the judge, caught him by the scruff of the neck, lifted him up, and then threw him into the middle of the gang of thugs.
‘On the contrary,’ announced Nyamasoya, ‘next week we shall hear the case of Mr Pong Mponga, who is accused of stealing a teaspoon from Arakan Barracks in July 2005, thereby misusing his position as Minister of Defence.’
‘Ha Ha,’ I laughed, ‘wasn’t it a splendid idea of President Cycle Mata to commit all the previous government to Chainama!’
‘It was the right thing to do,’ agreed Mankhwala. ‘As the Chief Psychiatrist, I know how to keep them busy. Their form of madness is quite harmless and entertaining if kept within the confines of a lunatic asylum. But if they are let loose on the general population they can cause havoc!’

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