The peaceful response of the public in Malawi to Monday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court annulling last year’s presidential election was an answer to prayer said Rev Dr Edward Mikwamba, one of the leaders of national prayer campaigns organised last year as widespread election protests turned into unrest.
He said tension in the country was high throughout Monday, with tight military security around the High Court in Lilongwe, and many shops closed and sealed in various centres in fear of looting depending on the way the case went.
But he said there was jubilation on the streets throughout the country the next day, after five top judges declared on Monday night that the May 2019 election was highly irregular with only 23% of result sheets verified. The judges overturned the narrow election victory of Malawian president Peter Mutharika which was challenged in court by opposition party leaders Lazarus Chakwera and former Vice President Saulos Chilima.
“I think, if the outcome had favoured the ruling party there could have been more violence in the country,” said Mikwamba, who is coordinator for National Repentance Week Malawi.
The court ordered a fresh poll within 150 days and said Mutharika will remain president until the new election. The 79-year-old president who took office for a second term last May, has said he will appeal the ruling.
Following Monday’s order, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which helped organise last year’s election protests, threatened to resume their demonstrations unless there were changes at the top of the electoral body.
According to media reports quoting judiciary sources, Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson and Justice of Appeal (JA) Jane Ansah, whose resignation has been demanded by protesters is set to take leave pending retirement.
The legal challenge of the presidential election result was the first in Malawi since independence from Britain in 1964, and only the second African vote result to be cancelled, after the 2017 Kenya presidential vote.
The court’s decision to overturn the election result has been hailed by international observers as a victory for democracy. Among them, former president of Ghana, Dr Jerry Rawlings praised the Malawian judges for standing for truth and resisting an alleged $20-million bribe.
Mikwamba said the prayer ministries of Malawi were continuing to pray for godly leadership and peace.
He said it was an exciting time as things were beginning to happen in the country, such as this week’s arrest of the chief and deputy chief immigration officers in connection with an illegal deportation order linked to the alleged theft of a South African company.
He said National Repentance Week Malawi, with its US partners, have started a Season of Repentance programme on Blantyre Synod Radio Station aimed at helping the Church to develop a culture of repentance towards the healing of the nations The programme is aired on Wednesdays from 7.30 pm and on Saturdays from 8am.
In a related development, they were also partnering with Cry of An Eagle Ministries to host a Repentance and Prayer Day for Peace in South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday February 8.