An ode to Justice Maxon Mbendera SC delivered by Commissioner Mastern Foster Moffat Banda
I extend condolences from the Malawi Electoral Commission to you all.
At the Malawi Electoral Commission we mourn with you the untimely and sudden departure of our beloved chairman.
Justice Mbendera was an accomplished lawyer, yes; a renowned Judge of the Supreme Court.
Yes but he also had a higher calling to serve as chairman of the Malawi Electoral Commission. We know that the Bible says leaders come from God but what great an honour it is to be trusted by God to manage such the process.
The late Justice Mbendera SC was appointed chairman of the Malawi Electoral Commission on 10th October 2012. His term of office is due to end on October 9 this year. His name will go down into the history of democracy and elections in he country as the first Chairperson to have presided over the first Tripartite in Malawi in May 2014.
Before that, Malawi never had Tripartite Elections and no one could boast of experience in handling such magnitude. We all witnessed the firm leadership he provided during the period to the extent that now we boast of holding a credible Tripartite Election.
We are a new Commission of eight members appointed on June 6 this year. The brief period we have worked with him, he proved to be a good leader. We felt comfortable, equal, and had a very good relationship with him, and he had
confidence in us. We were always ready to go the extra mile following his lead, especially in times of emergency in our work environment. He was a mobile person and loved to get things done, even if it took him after hours to do it.
He wore his heart on his sleeve not as a sign of weakness but as a testament to his honesty, integrity and ethically well lived life.
We were all looking up to him to provide leadership, mentorship and guidance as we lay a foundation for 2019 elections. But suddenly that person, that fountain of wisdom is gone. We mourn with you. We were all banking on his experience and knowledge but now it is reality to us that “death of a man like him is like burning
of a library”.
Justice Mbendera was a man of faith and a believer in God. In all our meetings he would always make reference to the word of God. So as we mourn him we remember what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 that:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
Justice Mbendera is in heaven now and we are here on his funeral. This is not the time for us to grieve his death but it’s our time to celebrate his life. So at this moment when we are about to lay his body to rest, let’s all think back and remember how he touched our lives. How he made us laugh and how good he was
as a person.
We take courage with this verse to forge ahead but I should confess that the death of our beloved Chairperson has come as a surprise to all of us. We were all looking forward to managing our first by-election with him later this year in October.
Your Honour the Vice-president, allow me also to mention that as Chairman of MEC, Justice Mbendera was vice-chairperson of the Electoral Commission Forum for SADC countries which is a grouping of electoral commissions in southern Africa.
He participated in various assignments in the region especially in electoral observation and our colleagues have also sent messages that they are mourning with us on his unexpected departure.
Justice Mbendera has left us with some legacies on how to live life to the full, how to live honestly, how to work hard and live well with your peers and finally how to stand up for the truth and walk honorably with God. Yes it is not length of life, but depth of life.
Gone before us too soon, Max, Chair, and My Lord Certainly, the precious memories of you will remain in our hearts. This is your time, Chair; ours will surely come. In everything, we all can say, the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh,
blessed be His holy name.
You are a true inspiration.
On behalf of my colleagues we extend condolences to the Mbendera family.