Chapter review by Mr. Rodwell Katundu
Trust in Election Management Bodies, Participation, Demonstration and Willingness to Pay Taxes: Evidence from Malawi, by Martin Limbikani Mwale, Gowokani Chijere Chirwa, Tony Mwenda Kamninga & Laston Petro Manja. (pp. 97 – 113)
This chapter investigates, on the basis of data from Malawi, whether cizitens’ trust in the national electoral commission relates to willingness to participate in demonstrations and if the trust also relates to willingness to pay taxes. The puzzle that this chapter attempts to solve is the correlation between the people’s trust in the national electoral bodies and the post-election demonstration. The strength of this chapter is that it has highlighted that the increased transparency and accountability of the electoral processes is one of the factors that may improve citizens’ trust in electoral management bodies. The findings from this chapter have confirmed the hypothesis that indeed trust in the national election commission is associated with reduced willingness of cizitens to participate in demonstrations and relates to their increased willingness to pay taxes.
Though the chapter makes an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the correlation between the aforementioned variables, it can be faulted on three counts. Firstly, it only concentrates on the trust of national electoral bodies as the main triggering factor for citizens’ willingness to participate in demonstrations and to pay taxes. It can be argued that there might be other factors that contributed to this, for example, the government’s legitimacy. Secondly, relating to the latter, this chapter has not sufficiently considered and related the perceptions and culture that have been dominating among Malawians concerning the payment of taxes starting from the colonial, post-colonial, and democratic eras. Thirdly, this study fails to highlight why there were sustained protests and demonstrations in 2019 and not during the 1999 elections.