Malawians return to polls a year after
A re-run of the May, 2019 election was ordered by Malawi’s Constitutional Court in February after judges found widespread irregularities with the original ballot.
Incumbent Peter Mutharika, whose victory was unexpectedly scrapped by the same courts he controlled, wants a second term. He is in the race with Lazarus Chakwera, who heads an opposition coalition.
Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) joined hands with other eight parties in Malawi and formed a stronger coalition that is now determined to unseat incumbent Mutharika.
The annulment of Mutharika victory shocked many in Malawi and else where in the world.
Malawi became the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities. Kenya was the first in 2017.
Evidence of vote tampering including correction fluid on tally sheets led to judges scrapping Mutharika’s May, 2019 victory. A fresh election was ordered.
Corruption and poverty are rife in Malawi and like elsewhere in Africa, it is never a walk over to unseat incumbents. Malawi has a widely young population.
The majority survive on less than a dollar a day. Those with gainful employment are very few.
The opposition now want to see a free and fair election. They want to see a new Malawi. Unlike in the last contested election, this time the winning candidate must get at least 50% of the vote.
In the capital Lilongwe and across Malawi hundreds of voters woke up almost at dawn and flocked to polling stations. Pictures circulating on social media showed even ageing Malawians at polling stations waiting patiently in long queues, to cast their ballots.
A re-run of 2020, saw President Mutharika narrowly re-elected with 38.6% of the vote. His closest opponent Lazurus Chakwera came second with 35.4%. Chakwera and the candidate who came third complained that the election had not been free and fair.
Their complaints included allegations that vote tallying forms had been added up incorrectly and tampered with using correction fluid.
Uncertainty around the result sparked months of tension and protests, across Malawi.
Peter Mutharika still insists he genuinely won the May, 2019 poll.
Mutharika was first elected as Malawi’s president in 2014. He succeeded his brother , Bingu wa Mutharika, who had died two years earlier while serving as president in Malawi.
Chakwera is leading a nine-party opposition coalition, the Tonse Alliance, and has the backing of former President Joyce Banda and Saulos Chilima, who is his running mate.
Chilima finished third in the May 2019 contest. Chilima was once a great ally of Peter Mutharika.
The Tonse Alliance is determined to unseat incumbent Mutharika. The alliance assured Malawians that this time round their vote will not be stolen by incumbent Peter Mutharika.
Lazuras Chakwera and his running mate Chilima spent the whole of last week calling upon Malawians to turn out at the polling station in large numbers and topple Mutharika.