Malawi Presidential election: a victory for good governance, the constitution and the rule of law

29 Jun 2020
election.png

The Scotland Malawi Partnership congratulates Dr Lazarus Chakwera on his victory in the re-run Presidential election, and welcomes his commitment to democracy, justice and inclusivity.

 It is to Malawi’s immense credit that its institutions held firm over the last year, despite many challenges. The independent judiciary took evidence in a transparent and thorough manner as questions were asked about the credibility of last May’s election. All sides were listened to and the constitution was followed. 

 The fresh leadership in the Malawi Electoral Commission are to be commended for the speed and effectiveness with which the new election was conducted, just two weeks after the date was finalised by Parliament and appointments confirmed.

The judiciary, the National Assembly, the police and the army have all played their role appropriately and Malawi has successfully navigated the transition of power: the Electoral Commission announced the results at 10pm on Saturday 27th June and Lazarus Chakwera was sworn-in at 10am the following day.

 We recognise the outgoing DPP have alleged instances of electoral violence and irregularities, and we expect these will be fully and appropriately investigated. President Chakwera has already said he will not stand in the way of a formal challenge being made through appropriate channels if there is deemed to be evidence.

 We are keen to take a moment to reflect how significant these events are.  As is often said, it is notably rare in African elections for the incumbent administration to lose: yet this has happened twice in Malawi in the last six years, with a peaceful transition of power in both instances.  Indeed, this is the first time in sub-Saharan African, and much of the world, that a country has had an election declared void and the opposition has won the resultant election.

 This has been a major test for Malawi, its constitution, its judiciary and its civic and political leadership.  We recognise that civic activism has played a key role in this process: the people of Malawi have held key institutions to account, with high levels of political citizenship and a real demand for transparency and good governance.

 Vera Kamtukule, CEO of our sister network, the Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP), set up a team of professionals who volunteered as official election observers.  She said: “Citizens came out in large numbers not only to cast their vote but also to stay and protect the process. Many volunteers from the legal fraternity, faith-based and civil society organisations and professionals in various sectors took time to provide their skills to ensure that the elections were credible.”

 On the 25th June, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) published their ‘Preliminary Observations and Recommendations on the Electoral Process’ broadly welcoming the successful delivery of the election, despite the many challenges.

 As friends and partners, we congratulate Malawi as it is held up as a model for others to follow, across the continent and across the globe.

 The Scotland Malawi Partnership and the Malawi Scotland Partnership remain politically neutral as we work on an cross-party basis to strengthen and support the bilateral relationship.  We look forward to working with the new Government of MalawiWhile we, quite rightly, celebrate this election as a triumph of due process, the constitution and the rule of law, we recognise there is always more to be done in strengthening good governance and we continue to work with Malawi, in dignified two-way partnership, as we continue this our Year of Governance Strengthening.


Finally, we are delighted to share here President Lazarus Chakwera’s inauguration speech in full.

 

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. LAZARUS MCCARTHY CHAKWERA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

 

My Fellow Citizens,

 To stand before you as your President today is an honour.

 It’s an honour that fills me with unspeakable joy and immense gratitude.

 It’s an honour forged in the furnace of your desire and demand for change.

 It’s an honour crafted by your hand when you braved the winter chill to cast your vote.

 It’s an honour that has reignited the dream of our nation’s founders for a New Malawi.

 When the founders of Malawi emerged from the womb of the great struggle that birthed our Independence in 1964, the dream was not merely for us to be freed from oppression. And when their children marched against the one-party state to birth our Democracy in 1993, the dream was not merely for us to be freed from tyranny.

 The dream that binds us together is for us to enjoy shared prosperity, not just freedom. For of what use is freedom from oppression if you are a slave to starvation? Or freedom from colonialism if you are a slave to tribalism? Of what use is freedom from tyranny if you are a slave to poverty?

 No! The dream was for all of us, together, to be the ones who enjoy the riches of Malawi’s soil; to be the ones who make the products of her industries; to be the ones who harvest the bounties of her fields; to be the ones who are served by her taxes; and to be the ones who raise the skylines of her cities.

Today, we too have emerged from great struggle and marched our sore feet towards this moment of victory and justice. But unlike our forebears, we have done so not just because we have a dream. We have done so because the time has come for us to go beyond dreaming. The time has come for us to arise from the slumber of our dream and make the dream true.

 Dr. Chilima and I accept this challenge and task. We will pursuit it, not just as servants accountable to you voters, but as stewards of the hopes of millions of children, born and unborn, who have no vote. With your help, we will restore a new generation’s faith in the possibility of having a government that serves, not a government that rules; a government that inspires, not a government that infuriates; a government that listens, not a government that shouts; a government that fights for you, not against you.

Now, I am no stranger to the benefits of good government. Although I was raised in a poor village like most Malawians; raised without inherited riches or political connections like most Malawians; raised without electricity or running water like most Malawians; I stand here today because I had one of the blessings of God that young Malawians today do not: The blessing of growing up in a well-governed Malawi.

 So I pledge to run Malawi well, for that is the surest path to Tsogolo Labwino, a path that has long been in ruins, riddled with the potholes of greed and corruption. In making this pledge, I am accepting this call to serve you with joy and holy fear, for I am duty bound to God and all of you to give it my best.

 However, I know that there are many of you who did not vote for me in this election, and perhaps the prospect of my presidency fills you with fear and grief. But I want you to remember one thing: This new Malawi is a home for you too, and so long as I am its President, it will be a home in which you too will prosper. I only ask you for one thing in return: To give Dr. Chilima and I a chance to earn your trust and make this win a win for all of us. That is how we will fulfil the dream of Malawi Watsopano Okomela…TONSE. God bless you and God bless Malawi.