Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Election Fever

As if it wasn’t bad enough being in the US during the whole Democratic Primary maelstrom, I returned to Malawi just in time for election season here.

Elections are next week on Tuesday, and everyone is a little on edge. Of course, when you ask, everyone says they think things will be fine, calm. But there’s a touchiness to everything right now. On my way to work, a man started laying on his horn less than a second after the light turned green. As I tried to get out of my car, another wacko starts beating on the trunk…Jorge asked me today if we should take our money out of the bank, just in case things break down and we need to bribe people.

My office has issued a memo saying Tuesday will be a working day like any other. Still, I plan to work from home, as do my other colleagues with laptops, just to avoid potential traffic snarls related to rallies and marches (crusades, they call them here). It’s not election day that’s worrisome, really – it’s 2 or 3 days later, when the results are announced that I’m a bit tense about.

Most people in the city here are calling it for Bingu, the current president, but ever since the two opposition parties joined ranks, the incumbent's victory is not such a sure thing. If the election is very close, or large amounts of people disagree with the outcome, then there’s the potential for problems. Most Malawians I know think of themselves as very peaceful, non-violent people, but the violence following the Kenyan elections 2 years ago really shook them up, as it planted those fears that the same thing could happen here. I sure hope it doesn’t.