It is necessary that the integrity of the electoral process be maintained. Indeed, the acceptance of the election as being free and fair depends upon that integrity. Elections must not only be free and fair but they must be perceived as being free and fair. Even-handedness in dealing with all political parties and candidates is crucial to that integrity and its perception by voters. The Commission must not be placed in a situation where it has to make ad hoc decisions about political parties and candidates who have not complied with the Act. The requirement that documents must be submitted to the local offices of the Commission does not undermine the right to vote and to stand for election. It simply gives effect to that right and underscores the decentralised and local nature of municipal elections.
Why then the gnashing of teeth when journalists commented on the Minister’s Health earlier in the week? Sometimes members of the government seem uncomfortable with operating in a country with a free press. Their insticts seem to deny anything they might perceive to be embarrassing and which they think there are not hard “objective” proof for.
What they do not understand is that in a democracy the press and us ordinary voters – if we are responsible citizens – take what government spokespersons say with a pinch of salt. This does not make us Afro-pessimists, just sane, sceptical people who do not trust power not to corrupt.