By Madalitso Musa & Jameson Chauluka:
The wait is over. Six days after Malawians voted in the second tripartite elections, Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Monday declared Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Peter Mutharika winner of the 2019 presidential election.
Mutharika got 1,940,709 votes, representing 38.57 percent of votes cast, beating Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera who amassed 1,781, 740 votes representing 35.41 percent. UTM’s Saulos Chilima emerged third with 1,018, 369 votes, translating into 20.24 percent of votes counted.
United Democratic Front (UDF) president, Atupele Muluzi, came a distant fourth after getting 235,164 votes representing 4.67 percent. Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) got 20, 369 votes (0.40 percent), John Chisi of United Party (UP) managed 19,187 votes (0.38 percent) while Reverend Kaliya conjured 15, 726 votes (0.31 percent).
Of the seven candidates who contested in this year’s election, four, namely Mutharika, Chakwera, Muluzi and Chisi also contested in 2014 as presidents while Chilima was running mate to Mutharika.
In 2014, Mutharika got 1,904,399 votes (36.4 percent), Chakwera also came second with 1,455,880 votes (27.8 percent), Muluzi emerged fourth after getting 717, 224 (13.7 percent) while Chisi was seventh out of 12 candidates who contested after amassing 12,048 votes, which was 0.2 percent of the 5,285,278 votes cast.
This year’s elections were never short of controversy, with accusations and counter accusations of rigging setting the pace for what was to be a pulsating electoral process.
There were reported cases of some electoral officials manipulating the number of votes on results sheets. A Returning Officer for Nsanje Central Constituency was arrested after being found with altered results sheets. Similar incidents were also reported in Lilongwe, Mangochi and Zomba.
This prompted UTM leader, Chilima, on Saturday to call for nullification of the elections while MCP obtained a court injunction stopping Mec from declaring winner of presidential election.
Mec and the government—through the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale—challenged the injunction at the High Court in Lilongwe on Sunday. It was until yesterday that presiding judge Charles Mkandawire vacated the injunction, freeing Mec to announce results of the elections.
Announcing the results, Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah said Mec had attended to all queries made by aggrieved parties and that the elections were “credible, free and fair”,
“By the powers vested in me by Section 80(2) of the Constitution as read with Section 96(5) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, I, Justice Dr Jane Mayemu Ansah, SC, JA, hereby declare candidate Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika as the President-elect of Malawi and Everton Herbert Chimulirenji as vice-president-elect of Malawi following the 21st May 2019 presidential election,” said Ansah to a rapturous shout of DPP supporters who gathered at Comesa Hall in Blantyre.
UTM’s Chilima congratulated Mutharika for the victory but insisted that the party would not relent until justice is served.
“All I can say is congratulations to those who have won but we are surprised with the results and, to that end, we will continue to pursue justice on the matter,” Chilima said.
MCP director of elections Moses Kunkuyu said the party was not satisfied with the way Mec had handled the elections. He faulted Mec for declaring results of the elections before addressing all queries made by parties.
In this year’s elections, 6,859,570 registered for voting but 5,105,983 voted, representing 74. 44 percent.
Malawi’s presidents since 1994
Bakili Muluzi 1994-2004
Bingu wa Mutharika 2004- 2012
Joyce Banda 2012-2014
Peter Mutharika 2014-