from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE – AS the dust finally settles after intense rivalries preceding one of the country’s most fiercely contested polls, Malawians must direct the same resolve displayed at the elections towards building their nation.
The Southern African country recently held a momentous election that catapulted Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to power.
It represented a dramatic turnaround of fortunes for the party that had lost power following the return of multiparty democracy in 1993. MCP led the former Nyasaland nation after it gained independence from Britain in 1964.
The largely peaceful Malawi had also been beset by tensions after the Constitutional Court annulled the outcome of last year’s poll that had incumbent Arthur Peter Mutharika declared the winner.
New polls were ordered after evidence of irregularities.
It represented the first time in Southern Africa that such a ruling was made, and only the second time. The first time courts overturned an election was in Kenya, in 2017. There, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta won the disputed and rerun polls.
While there have been qualms at the conduct of Malawi’s latest poll, particularly from the losing candidate, the commitment to peace has led to him concede defeat.
Chakwera has since been sworn in and is in the process of structuring his government.
Such has been the exemplary transfer of power that the global community has hailed Malawi.
This comes as a major boost to the incoming administration’s resolve to deepen its democracy.
“Malawians have demonstrated to the world a resolve to chart their own democratic path in the constitutional way,” Patricia Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, stated.
She commended Mutharika for his leadership and urged him to continue collaboration with the Commonwealth on the promotion of the organisation’s values.
Osias Kapesa, the political analyst said by conceding defeat, Mutharika had earned himself the status of statesman.
“Mutharika’s acceptance of defeat makes him a good candidate for appointment as a peacemaker in some hotspots in the continent,” Kapesa said.
“This is the time for nation-building,” Scotland said.
“I encourage every citizen to channel the same determination shown at the ballot box towards the achievement of this collective goal.”
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) also commended the democracy displayed by its member country before, during and after the poll.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the President of Zimbabwe and SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, also applauded the way Malawi had conducted its poll despite the threat of COVID-19.
Malawi at the time of publication confirmed 1 224 cases and 13 deaths from the virus.
The pandemic rates highly among the challenges Chakwera’s government must tackle.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the African Union (AU) chairperson, pledged the bloc’s commitment to enhance cooperation with Malawi, with particular attention to strengthening economic development and integration.
The new government has to hit the ground running.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission in March stated with the evolution of the COVID-19, the economic outlook was subject to substantial uncertainty.
However, the recent strong agricultural harvests and reconstruction after Cyclone Idai have boosted growth.
Growth in the country of 18 million people had been projected to increase by 6-7 percent before the virus outbreak.
– CAJ News