By Trouble Ziba
Lilongwe, Malawi’s President-elect, Reverend Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has described the country’s freedom from colonialism and the one-party system as of no use if the citizens still languish in poverty, tribalism, corruption and other vices.
Chakwera was delivering an acceptance speech on Monday at the Malawi Square in Lilongwe after taking Oath of Office administered by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda as the country’s sixth State President.
He said Malawi’s struggle for independence and multiparty democracy was not just to set the people free but also accord them shared prosperity.
“When the founders of Malawi emerged from the womb of the great struggle that birthed our independence in 1964, the dream was not merely for us to be freed from oppression.
“And when their children marched against the one-party state to birth Democracy in 1993, the dream was not merely for us to be freed from tyranny,” he said.
“For what use is freedom from oppression if you are a slave to starvation? Of 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 of poverty?” wondered Chakwera amid ululation from the mammoth crowd that gathered at the ceremony.
To Malawians who did not vote for him in the just ended court-mandated fresh presidential election, Chakwera advised them not to be afraid, saying his victory was for all Malawians and that everyone would share the fruits by virtue of being Malawian.
He said he was aware that by standing on the platform making promises to Malawians, he was also doing the same to God and therefore, him and the Vice-President, Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima would strive to serve the country with all their might.
“Dr Chilima and I accept the challenge and task. We will pursue 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,” he said.
The president elect further pledged to run Malawi well, saying that was the surest path to Tsogolo Labwino (bright future) which has long been in ruins and riddled with the potholes of greed and corruption.
Chakwera becomes Malawi’s sixth President following the nullification of the May 21, 2019, presidential election by the Constitutional Court on February 3 this year, due to what it described as mass irregularities.
The court further ruled that there be a fresh presidential election within 150 days from the day it made the ruling.
After the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and outgoing President Arthur Peter Mutharika appealed the case to Supreme Court, the higher court upheld the decision by the lower court.
The fresh election saw Chakwera defeating President Arthur Peter Mutharika with a margin of 852, 666 votes.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM Party and other seven political parties joined forces to form Tonse Alliance in the run up to the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election.
The strategy has emphatically worked to the advantage of the political parties involved in the alliance.
Only three candidates featured in the election namely, Dr Lazarus Chakwera of MCP who led the Tonse Alliance, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika who was the torchbearer for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)/United Democratic Front (UDF) Alliance and Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD).
It is over 2.6 million votes, representing 58.57 per cent of the valid votes cast against 1, 751,377 for second placed Mutharika that have put Chakwera as the country’s sixth State President today.
Notable dignitaries at the swearing in ceremony included former MCP President John Tembo, former official Hostess Cecilia Kadzamira, former State President Joyce Banda and retired Chief Justice Richard Banda. Former Vice-President Khumbo Kachale was also in attendance