Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has declared President Peter Mutharika, the torchbearer of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), winner of the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections with 1 940 709 votes or 38.57 percent.
Results announced by MEC chairperson Jane Ansah at the National Tally Centre in Blantyre last evening put Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera on second position with 1 781 740 votes, representing 35.41 percent of the vote and the country’s outgoing Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who debuted on the presidential ballot on UTM Party ticket, in third place with 1 018 369 votes or 20.24 percent.
The announcement means Mutharika and his running mate, former Ntcheu North East legislator Everton Chimulirenji, who lost his parliamentary seat in last Tuesday’s election, will be sworn-in as President and Vice-President, respectively, for a new five-year term of office.
There was a deafening applause from DPP members in the Chichiri International Conference Centre, widely known as Comesa Hall, when Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, announced that Mutharika had amassed 1.9 million votes. The results were presented in the order the candidates appeared on the presidential ballot paper in alphabetical order of surnames; hence, Chakwera was followed by Chilima and Mutharika was last.
In contrast, there was a muted reaction from the MCP camp, which on Saturday obtained a court order stopping MEC from announcing the results until alleged irregularities were addressed, after the announcement.
While DPP officials, including former Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe and Henry Mussa joined in a celebration dance, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka refused to grant an interview, saying the party was not ready with a reaction.
Reacting to his party’s victory in an interview, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi thanked God for granting the party another term of office and the people of Malawi for entrusting DPP with their vote.
He said DPP will continue with its development programmes, particularly on issues of health, agriculture and infrastructure development.
On the slender winning margin, Dausi said: “Democracy is competitive and under such circumstances the best candidate wins.”
In his reaction monitored on Times Television, Chilima congratulated the declared winners, but described the results as surprising.
He said his party will continue seeking justice for the people of Malawi.
Said Chilima: “UTM is here to stay. It is a strong party. On the way forward, we will sit down and agree as a party.”
Briefing journalists earlier, Ansah, at around 5pm, announced that the court order that tied MEC’s hands was vacated and that the commission would announce the winner of the presidential race.
She said MEC had completed the tabulation of results and that complaints raised after the elections had been addressed, an assertion MCP national campaign director Moses Kunkuyu disputed.
Kunkuyu said the electoral body was yet to communicate formally in writing on how the issues were resolved.
He said: “As MCP, we still believe there are issues that need to be addressed. We were asked to put our grievances in writing and while MEC says it has responded to our issues, we haven’t received any formal communication.”
In a prelude to announcing the winner, Ansah said the election was conducted in a free and fair manner and that the results were a true reflection of the will of Malawians.
There were 5 002 polling stations and out of 6 859 570 registered voters, 5 105 983 turned up for polling, representing 74.44 percent. There were 74 719 null and void votes in the presidential race, representing 1.09 percent.
Former minister of Health Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) finished fourth with 235 164 votes representing 4.67 percent.
Other candidates in the race Revelend Hadwick Kaliya (independent) got 15 726 votes, representing 0.31 percent, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwawaku Movement for Development (MMD) amassed 20 369 votes or 0.40 percent and John Chisi of Umodzi Party polled 19 187 votes or 0.38 percent.
In 2014, Mutharika, with Chilima as his running mate, triumphed with 1 904 399 votes, representing 36.4 percent of the votes cast against Chakwera’s 1 455 880 or 27.8 percent. Then incumbent president Joyce Banda, who had ascended to the presidency in line with constitutional order after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012, finished third with 1 056 236 votes or 20.2 percent of the vote while Muluzi finished fourth with 717 224 votes or 13.7 percent.
There were eight “minnows” outside the top four who collectively amassed 94 844 of the 5 228 583 votes cast in 2014. In that election, Chisi got 12 048 votes, representing 0.22 percent.