Malawians turned out in large numbers to vote on 23 June in fresh presidential election following the nullification of the May 21 2019 election results by the Constitutional Court on Feb 3 and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal because of gross irregularities. They voted the incumbent Arthur Peter President Mutharika out of the office and ushered in Malawi Congress Party Reverend Lazarus Chakwera who won with an admirable 58.57%.
The fall of Mutharika from the presidency was slowly coming. Unfortunately, he ignored all the warning signs from opposition parties, civil society, judiciary, religious organisations and other interest groups to make amends. It was a matter of time before his tribal grouping and regional empire crumbled at the ballot box.
Like King Pharaoh, Mutharika hardened his heart over the years and paid a blind eye the cries of Malawians to govern the country for the benefit of everyone. He grew stubborn and never listened to anyone, and he was not comfortable working with people from other regions.
All top positions in government and state-owned companies were a preserve of a few people from one tribal grouping and those from the Southern region where he comes from. Lucrative contracts went to cronies and those politically or tribally connected. Embassies are filled with friends, relatives and regional mates.
Public institutions such as Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, Malawi Revenue Authority and Electricity Supply Company of Malawi were used to siphon resources to fund DPP activities and the tribal grouping Mulakhwo wa Lhomwe. Mutharika presided over a government that was characterised by impunity, unfulfilled promises, corruption, nepotism, regionalism, marginalisation, abuse of state resources and state capture. There was no vision to move the country forward.
Mutharika is one individual who was not moved by the plight of Malawians or worried or cared about the accusations levelled against him. He forgot that one day he would need the very people he was ignoring and victimising. It became clear that Mutharika would not make it with 50+1 voting system. He did not realise that a person cannot win from one tribal grouping. It was clear that northerners would not vote for him because he had nothing to develop the region save for laying foundation stones. For example, there is nothing on ground for the construction of Mombera University and Mzuzu Airport. Many projects across the region have stalled. Quota system was also a thorny issue among northerners.
Malawians will never understand how someone who is a professor of law, taught at reputable American universities and lived in US for 40 years displayed such high level of incompetence, reduced himself to tribal / regional leader, was part of the corrupt system, fought the judiciary, failed to initiate constitutional changes to improve democracy, allowed corruption to spiral out of control, allowed people to abuse and siphon public resources without taking action.
Mutharika was a failed leader who will go in the annals of Malawi political history as the worst president since 1994. His loss is a blessing to Malawians who are tired of institutionalised corruption, tribalism, nepotism and maladministration and desire a new lease of life under President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-president Saulos Chilima who have vowed to improve the welfare of all Malawians regardless of the region people come from or their tribe. The MCP-UTM Tonse Alliance is intent on building a unified Malawi where everyone is accommodated and be part of Malawi. Depending on which side of the fence one is those who were eating with him they see him as hero and feel sorry for the loss.
For the majority of Malawians, Mutharika’s humiliating defeat is punishment for acting with impunity. He made so many mistakes and failed to correct them. He has a left a bad legacy that would take some time to be forgotten.
All Malawians of goodwill should give the new administration a chance to rebuild the nation, clean the mess and reform civil service and state-owned companies and initiate necessary changes in the economy for the benefit of everyone. However, citizens have a duty to provide checks and balances so that leaders are held accountable to stay on track.