Malawi’s new President, Lazarus Chakwera has Sunday taken oath of office after being declared winner of the re-run presidential election late Saturday.
Chakwera, 65, and member of opposition political party, MCP, defeated incumbent President, Peter Mutharika with 58% of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, according to the country’s Electoral Commission.
The election was the second in just over a year after Mutharika’s re-election was annulled by courts due to irregularities. The Constitutional Court in early February ruled that the May 2019 vote was fraught with “grave and widespread irregularities”, including the use of correction fluid on result sheets, thus ordering new elections within 150 days, a decision that was upheld by the country’s Supreme Court last month.
The swearing-in which took place in the Capital Lilongwe and presided over by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, has seen both Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima take oath as President and Vice President respectively.
In his acceptance speech, Chakwera said by fighting for independence, Malawi’s founders did not only seek to get rid of the white man but to be free from poverty and tribalism which he said defined the previous regimes.
“The dream that binds us together is for us to enjoy shared prosperity, not just freedom. For what use is freedom from oppression if you are a slave to starvation? For what use is freedom from colonialism if you are a slave to tribalism? Of what use is freedom from tyranny if you are a slave to poverty?” asked President Chakwera.
“No, the dream was for all of us together to be the ones to 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,” he added.
Chakwera, a pastor turned politician, said he and the new vice President have accepted the challenge of leading the country on grounds that they commit putting in place a government that puts interests of the people of Malawi at the forefront.
“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 hope 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 a government that fights against you,” he said.
The new and 6th President of Malawi said that he is not stranger to benefits of good governance despite his humble family background with no political history.
“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. 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,” explains Chakwera.
On Malawians who didn’t vote for him, the country’s new leader said they should not worry that his government will unfairly treat them, but instead, they should come together and build the country.
“I know there are many of you who did not vote for me in the 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,” reiterated the President.
Who is Lazarus Chakwera?
Lazarus Chakwera was born in Lilongwe, the current capital of Malawi, on April 5, 1955 when the country was still under British colonial rule. His family were subsistence farmer in the city’s outskirts.
Rumours of Chakwera’s intention to run in the MCP’s presidential race were first reported in online media on April 9, 2013. They were confirmed on April 14, 2013. Chakwera later submitted his nomination papers while still at the helm of the Malawi Assemblies of God. The MCP convention slated for 27 April 2013 was later postponed to 10 and 11 August where he was elected as the president of MCP and he will represent the party in the 2014 general election.
During 2014 Malawi General elections, rumors speculated in different platforms that the elections were rigged. Chakwera addressed all Malawians to remain peaceful, accept the outcome, and wait for the next coming elections. Besides being successful as the main opposition party president, he has also been serving as a member of parliament for the Lilongwe North West Constituency.
He announced his resignation as the Head of the Malawi Assemblies of God (AG) with effect on 14 May 2013. He said this would enable him to concentrate more on front-line politics and claimed that he was still serving God in another context.
When Court ruled out the 2019 General elections due to massive irregularities after DPP claimed victory, Chakwera joined forces with UTM leader Saulos Chilima (now new vice President), forming an Alliance in preparation for last week’s Malawi General elections.p