The elections in May 2019
|Results of the presidential elections on May 21, 2019|
|Peter Mutharika||Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)||1,940,709||38.6|
|Lazarus Chakwera||Malawi Congress Party (MCP)||1,781,740||35.4|
|Saulos Chilima||United Transformation Movement (UTM)||1,018,369||20.2|
|Atupele Muluzi||United Democratic Front (UDF)||235.164||4.7|
Presidential, parliamentary and local elections were held on May 21, 2019. A total of 74.4% of the almost 6.86 million registered voters cast their votes. According to the judgment of the EU election observation mission, election day was “well-managed, inclusive, transparent and competitive”. Other international election observation groups (Commonwealth, SADC, African Union) largely shared this view. Heiko Meinhardt carried out an analysis of the elections in the magazine Afrika Süd.
There were delays in the process of counting votes for the presidential election. When, based on a good three quarters of all votes cast, there was a small lead for Mutharika, the MCP obtained before the Supreme Court in Lilongwe on May 25th. an injunction against the announcement of the final result. The MCP requested a recount in 10 of 28 districts because irregularities had occurred there. In addition to other irregularities, results protocols are said to have been changed with correction fluid. After the temporary injunction was lifted on May 27th. the official final result was announced. On May 28 took place according to the constitution Swearing in of Mutharika and Vice President Chilumirenji in the football stadium in Blantyre. Chilima congratulated Mutharika on the election, but Chakwera meanwhile does not recognize the election victory and called for protests.
After the elections, there were incidents of vandalism and violence, apparently by MCP supporters who felt spurred on by a speech by MCP leader Chakwera, in some cases highly emotional. These incidents mainly took place in the central region, the MCP stronghold, and even led to a much criticized shorter blockade of the capital Hill government seat. Demonstrations registered by the MCP against the election result, however, went largely peacefully on the stage. The demonstrations regularly organized by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), an officially impartial civil society organization, demanding the resignation or dismissal of the chairman of the electoral commission, Jane Ansah, were in some cases accompanied by violence, looting and vandalism. A four-day blockade of international airports and all border crossings announced for the end of August 2019 was prohibited by a court for reasons of internal security. Meanwhile, 26 victims of the vandalism are suing for damages against the organizers of the demonstrations filed by the HRDC over K 545 million for damage caused by vandalism, arson and looting. In August 2019, an arson attack was carried out on the home of the HRDC chairman by unknown persons, but it caused only limited damage.
According to ehistorylib, 1,327 candidates ran for the 193 seats in parliament, 24% of them women. The ruling party DPP won 62 seats (including 19 women), the MCP 55 (including 9 women), the UDF 10 (including 3 women), the PP 5 (0 women) and the UTM 4 (including 1 woman) seats. AFORD only won one seat, one remained vacant. The second largest group with 55 seats were the independent candidates (including 13 women). A total of 45 women made it into parliament (2014: 32). Over half of the cabinet members lost their seats, including UDF chairman Atupele Muluzi.
Parliamentary work has so far been cooperative. The 2019/20 state budget of 1.7 trillion kwacha (approx. 2.13 billion euros) was unanimously approved in early October 2019 with the votes of the opposition. The largest individual items were in education (10.5%), agriculture (9.8%) and health (5.9%).
Meanwhile, the election results of the MCP and UTM have been challenged in the Supreme Court with the aim of invalidating the presidential elections as a whole and bringing about new elections. The judiciary in Malawi is also described by Chakwera as independent and fair. The complaints were summarized by the court. The process started. The interrogation of the first plaintiff, Saulos Chilima, did not produce any reliable evidence of election fraud. The interrogations of the second plaintiff, MCP boss Chakwera, also failed to provide the announced “overwhelming evidence” of election fraud. The hearings ended in December 2019. On February 3, 2020, the Lilongwe High Court canceled the results of the presidential election in a spectacular decision and ordered new elections within 150 days. At the same time was with the decision of former Vice President Saulos Chilima who now ironically projecting an opposition party and was one of the plaintiffs, de jure restored to his office used. The court did not cite election fraud or election fraud to justify the cancellation of the election, but rather extensive systematic irregularities. The President remains in office with all powers until a successor is elected. Both the electoral commission and Mutharika appealed the verdict lodged with the Supreme Court of Appeal, which Mutharika had already announced publicly immediately after the judgment. The Supreme Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal on May 8, 2020 and upheld the High Court’s judgment.
On March 21, 2020, the government declared the State of National Disaster due to the corona pandemic, which is accompanied by the closure of educational institutions and a ban on gatherings with more than 100 people. On April 14, the government announced a 21-day lockdown, which met with sharp protests from mainly street vendors and was stopped with a very controversial court decision.
The repeat of the presidential election (June 23, 2020)
A new electoral commission was appointed in early June 2020. All political actors involved placed great trust in the new chairman of the electoral commission, the High Court Judge Chifundo Kachale. Against the background of the corona crisis and logistical challenges, the date set by parliament for the repetition of the presidential election (June 23, 2020) seemed ambitious. Due to the well-advanced preparatory work of the old electoral commission and the just timely arrival of the ballot papers produced in Dubai, the election was carried out properly. All complaints were received by the electoral commission prior to the announcement of the final result processed. Complaints by the DPP about violent attacks on their election observers were passed on to the police for prosecution.
In the elections, the opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera (MCP), who ran in alliance with Saulos Chilima (UTM) as a candidate for the vice-presidency, clearly prevailed with 2,604,043 votes (58.6%). The incumbent President Peter Mutharika, who started in the team with the young UDF chairman Atupele Muluzi, disappointed with 1,751,877 votes (39.9%), while Peter Kuwani had no chance with 32,456 votes (0.7%) as expected. The turnout was only 64.8%, about 10% less than in 2019. While Chakwera clearly won in the central and northern regions, Mutharika was successful with 80% of the vote in the southern region.
Mutharika expressed severe criticism of the election process, which he described as the worst in the country’s history. However, for the sake of peace, he wanted to refrain from a challenge.