The outcome of the June 23 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election has offered the country an opportunity to consolidate democracy and charter a new course for economic growth and development, political commentators say.
In separate interviews yesterday on lessons learnt from the election, the commentators said Malawians have sent a strong message to leaders through the ballot that they will no longer tolerate incompetence and ineffectiveness.
The fresh presidential election followed a February 3 2020 ruling by a five-judge panel of the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election due to irregularities in the results management system and ordered a fresh one within a 150 days.
In a written response, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political science lecturer Ernest Thindwa said one of the key lessons is that voters have now become more sophisticated and that no amount of patronage can determine electoral outcomes.
He said citizens are increasingly becoming more aware, involved and are demanding accountability from the political class and public servants.
Said Thindwa: “Strongholds are no longer sufficient to win an election but rather, broad-based support earned through inclusivity for the incumbent administration or a promise of an alternative progressive government for the opposition will always be significant in shaping electoral outcomes in the absolute majority requirement setting.”
On his part, University of Malawi’s Polytechnic-based political analyst Chimwemwe Tsitsi said Malawians have shown politicians that it is the citizens that hold the power and they must not be taken for granted.
He said: “As Section 12 of our Constitution stipulates, State authority derives from the people of Malawi and such authority should be exercised in a manner that protects and promotes interests of Malawians.”
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Saturday declared Tonse Alliance torchbearer Lazarus Chakwera winner of the election.He was sworn-in yesterday in Lilongwe.
Meanwhile, University of Oslo political science Professor Dan Banik, who has conducted political and development research on Malawi, said the new leadership must bear in mind that Malawians will hold them accountable for missed opportunities and broken promises.
He said: “Jumpstarting developments in Malawi requires bold decisions, some of which may be unpopular. Longer-term and sustainable policies should be prioritised in place of those aimed at securing short-term political gains.
“Fostering inclusive decision-making and revamping the fight against corruption and mismanagement is going to be key. There is little time to lose and no time to celebrate the victory.”
He also urged the new leadership not to be secretive, saying when mistakes are made, they should be addressed and not be swept under the carpet.