Malawi goes to the polls on Tu

Malawi goes to the polls on Tuesday for historic election rerun

The country’s voters are back casting their ballots after a court ruled the 2019 elections invalid due to widespread irregularities.

Malawi goes to the polls on Tu

Voters in Malawi go to the polls this Tuesday, 23 June, in an historic rerun of the country’s 2019 election that was declared invalid by a local court.

It is believed to be only the second time in sub-Saharan Africa that a country’s court has set aside an election result. The first was in Kenya in 2017.

New elections must be held within 150 days

There are three candidates contesting the rerun poll, which was originally scheduled for 2 July but was then brought forward to Tuesday.

When the Malawian Constitutional Court made its ruling on the rerun on 3 February this year, it stipulated that a new election had to take place within 150 days. At the time the court cited grave and widespread irregularities, including the use of correction fluid on ballot papers.

The country has had relatively few free and fair elections. It gained independence from the UK in 1964 and changed its name from Nyasaland to Malawi. But it was ruled for three decades as a one-party state by President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who declared himself President for Life.

By 1993, amid increasing domestic and international pressure, he agreed to hold a referendum which ended the one-party system.

Three candidates but a two-horse race

Tuesday’s election is being contested by three candidates, although it is in reality regarded as a two-horse race between the current president, Peter Mutharika, and main opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera.

In the 2019 election, Mutharika won with just 38.5% of all votes cast, which amounted to only 159 000 more votes than Chakwera. The latter received 35% of the votes.

Mutharika is a former university law professor and has been accused of large-scale corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

Opposition ‘stole’ the government from us

According to a report by news agency AFP, an upbeat Mutharika held his final campaign meeting on Saturday 20 June, rallying supporters to vote and secure another victory.

“We won the election in 2019 but the (opposition) went to court and grabbed the government from us,” Mutharika told scores of supporters in Rumphi, northern Malawi. “So let us go and vote so that those who stole the government from us should be ashamed.’

But Chakwera is also bullish. “We have more confidence that this election will be treated with the integrity it deserves,” he told AFP.