Rev Lazarus Chakwera, president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), is set to become the nation’s new leader, with unofficial results showing he has amassed nearly 60% of votes in what will be Africa’s first change of power following a presidential election re-run ordered by the courts over irregularities.
More than six million Malawians voted on Tuesday, five months after the Constitutional Court overturned the narrow election victory of Malawian president Professor Peter Mutharika in May last year, which was challenged by Chakwera and fellow-opposition-leader former Vice President Saulos Chilima.
During the 9 months court hearing leading up to the historic election annulment ruling in February, Malawi was at standstill due to protests that saw banks and other buildings looted and the economy damaged. Malawi became the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities, after Kenya in 2017. The Kenyan re-run did not result in a change of president.
Chakwera led the Malawi Assemblies of God Church for 20 years before entering politics and winning leadership of Malawi’s oldest political party which he has led for the past eight years. The MCP which was founded by Malawi’s first president, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, has not been in power for 30 years.
Many pastors have expressed a view that Chakwara should not be in politics as a charismatic preacher but he assured his colleagues that God called him into politics to bail out Malawians, reports Dr Edward Mikwamba, national coordinator of National Repentance Malawi, one of the ministries that has been mobilising prayer in churches and mountains for the healing of the nation according to 2 Chronicles 7 v 14 since last year’s disputed election.
For his election campaign Chakwera formed the Tonse alliance with nine other political parties, saying that God loves unity.
During his last rally he prayed to God for the healing of Malawi and also knelt as other men and women prayed for him.
Analysts and election holders have rated the elections as peaceful, even without international observers. The new electoral commission chair Pastor Justice Dr Chifundo Kachale, has been praised for conducting a good election, barely after two weeks of appointment. His predecessor, Jane Ansah, resigned last month, following months of pressure by protesters who criticised her handling of the 2019 poll.
At the time of going to press, unofficial results show Chakwera with 59,4% of votes, Mutharika with 39,86% and Peter Kuwani with 0,74%. The election rules require the winner to garner more than 50% of the vote.