From a long march earlier on Thursday, protesters in Lilongwe turned up in large numbers for a vigil, held in the Presidential Way—between Parliament Building and Kamuzu Mausoleum.
By 7pm, people had started congregating, and by 10pm, dancing to the music, which played throughout the night. Once in a while, organisers fired up the situation with some radical speeches—basically a reminder to the audience why they had gathered there at night.
It was a chilly night but this did not stop people from gathering and showing their anger against Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah, whom they want to resign due to alleged mismanagement of the May 21 Presidential Election.
The mood was tense, yet friendly to anyone willing to join. The Presidential Drive was barricaded with burnt tyres. In the middle of the road, there was a lorry with loud speakers—from where the music was played live or relayed from compact discs (CDs).
Parliament Building was heavily guarded by Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers, who had remained aloof from the night activities, which included beer-drinking and smoking profusely.
Notably present throughout the night were members of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), organisers of both the demonstrations and the vigil, led by chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his vice Gift Trapence. The two were heavily surrounded by civilian bodyguards.
UTM Party’s Jessie Kabwila was another notable figure, who participated in the vigil until Friday morning.
“We thank you all for participating in this vigil. This shows how committed you are to change. We will not relent until Jane Ansah resigns. We are doing this not because we hate someone but because we love Malawi,” said Mtambo during an address at around 1am.
Trapence added: “If she [Ansah] does not resign, we will organise vigils at her own house.” Both Mtambo and Trapence received a resounding applause with the audience chanting ‘achoke’.
Kabwila said the protests were a national cause and appealed to all Malawians to join without considering political colours. She invited the audience to sing the National Anthem.
By 3am, a good number of people were seen sleeping rough, including in trenches. Some warmed themselves up with fire. But the music never stopped playing until on Friday morning, with few dancers on the floor after a good number of people who had originally taken part in the euphoria had retired to their respective homes.