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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Malawi’s warm heart of Africa under siege:Pre-lessons for Zambia in election year 2021

Columns Malawi's warm heart of Africa under siege:Pre-lessons for Zambia in election year...

Malawi opposition supporters march to the Malawian parliament during a demonstration against the re-election of the president, which protestors say was due to fraud, on July 4, 2019, in Lilongwe, Malawi. / AFP / AMOS GUMULIRA

By Aristide Bance


Malawi has claimed to be ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’ for decades now. The marketing slogans of countries can be far from the truth, but Malawi’s case is a title that is well articulated and is well deserved. When you visit Malawi, one thing that will strike you most is the friendliness and somewhat timid nature of citizens of Malawi. In my view, these two aspects are what earns Malawi their ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ title because Malawians are naturally humble people.
Malawi held its election on the 21st of May 2019 and a total of ten candidates were contesting for the post with incumbent president Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vying for a second term in office. Other notable candidates were Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi Congress Party) and Atupele Muluzi (United Democratic Front). Former first female president of Malawi Joyce Banda of the People’s Party planned to run but later withdrew and endorsed Lazarus Chakwera as her preferred candidate. Ras Chikomeni Chirwa another candidate was disqualified due to lack of funds and falling to collect enough signatures.

The Electoral system of Malawi

To set the context of this article, it is imperative to understand the electoral system of Malawi. The president of Malawi is elected using the first-past-the-post system or winner takes all system where the candidate that receives the most votes is the winner of the election. The one hundred and ninety-three Members of Parliament (MPs) are also elected by the first-past-the-post voting in single member constituencies.

Countries of the world using the first past-the post

The following countries of the world that practice the first-past-the-post are the following: Antiqua and Barbuda, Azerbajan, Bahamas, Barbados, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda (United Kingdom), Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil (Federal Senate), Canada, Cayman Islands(United Kingdom), Cote D’Ivore, Cook Islands (New Zealand), Dominica, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, India, Indonesia (Regional Representative Council, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia Marshall Islands, Malaysia, Mauritius, Micronesia, Myanner (Burna), Nigeria, Niue, Oman Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Poland (Senate), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Virgin Islands (United Kingdom and United States of America), Yemen and Zambia (yes, our Zambia).
In my opinion, the first-past-the-post system works better in countries that have a two party system that dominates the political landscape because you hardly hear of election contestations. For example, the United States of America (Republicans and Democrats), Jamaica (Peoples National Party and Jamaica Labour Party), Trinidad and Tobago ( Peoples National Movement and Peoples Partnership) the United Kingdom (Conservative Party and Labour Party), Belize (United Democratic Party and Peoples United Party), and although Canada has a multi-party system similar to many African countries, the first-past-the-post works well there.

Malawi disputed election results and Jane Ansah must fall campaign

The May 2019 election results in Malawi were highly contentious and opposition leaders led by Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima disputed the results in court. This was followed by nationwide protests in May, June and July with fresh planned protests for August aimed at staging protests at the countries Airports and country borders (So much for the timid nature of Malawians!!!!!). The Government of the Republic of Malawi has, through the courts, ordered a ban on protest action at the country’s airports and border crossings on Friday, August 23rd, 2019.
This makes for interesting reading because for the past three months, Malawi as a stable ‘Warm of Africa’ environment has not been at peace. What the Government of the Republic of Malawi has miscalculated is the people’s intent to remove them and the government relying on the usual Malawian timid nature. They have it wrong and of late, we have seen even the most oppressive leaders over-thrown. A case in point, Omar al-Bashir( Seventh president of Sudan- 1989- 2019) who in December of 2018 faced large scale protests which wanted him out of the presidency and in April 2019, he was removed by the army. So, if you look at the will of the Sudanese people, they started protests in December of 2018 and despite the government harassments and all, in April 2019, they succeeded (Other African Leaders, watch out!!!).
Coming to the case in hand, the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission Jane Ansah and the incumbent president Peter Mutharika were accused of having rigged the 2019 elections. The Malawian Youth organised a ‘Jane Ansah Must Fall’ campaign. This sends strong signals to other leaders of Africa. Remember, the number of youths in the developing world far out numbers the old rugged leaders we have in Africa. If I am an old president or even a president who has overstayed their welcome, I would be thinking carefully for my next election movements. The women of Malawi on the other hand, held the ‘I am Jane Ansah’ campaign alleging, Ms. Ansah was a victim of gender discrimination.

Lessons from the warm heart of Malawi

The fight in Malawi is dragging on and the youth are demonstrating their power and with enough pressure, they will get to their intended goal. It is becoming an unbearable environment for the people of Malawi and the year is almost over and the government of the day is sweating over protests and using courts to ban them. It is a bad thing because the country is put on hold in terms of developmental matters. Critics may not support the protests based on the fact that nothing is happening in terms of moving forward but if the will of the people is not with the government, then its time to listen. The so-called timid nature of Malawians is what the government relies on and I am pretty sure they are surprised that the people are uprising. I am an avid movie watcher and I enjoy Sci-Fi movies and old Sci-Fi movies used to predict uprisings, mass demonstrations and fighting of limited resources amongst people. I think people should pay attention to movies and learn a lot. As we approach, 2021 and it is election year in Zambia, an awareness of the so-called friendly people of Zambia and their patience with their leaders is a good indication to the leaders on how to handle the situation. The Government of the Republic of Zambia should not rely on the idea that Zambians will never get up in arms. The government will get a rude awakening (Remember: former President Rupiah Bwezani Banda crying on national television after losing in 2011). My fear is that, in Zambia we have an idea that Zambians are peaceful people and fear war and fighting, but remember, we are living in a world where resources are becoming limited and the population is growing. That idea of peace loving Zambians can disappear when people are left fighting for scraps, and we will be left surprised with events that may ensue in 2021. My humble plea is for our leaders is not to be selfish. Look what’s happening to Omar al-Bashir, he is behind bars. Just across the border, in Zimbabwe, though not an appropriate example, we witnessed Uncle Bob (Robert Gabriel Mugabe) taken out and though Mnangagwa is also facing the headache of protest action day in and day out in Zimbabwe of late due to worsening economic conditions in that country. In Zambia, as we approach 2021, the pre lesson we can learn from Malawi is that, the Electoral Commission of Zambia must exercise impartiality otherwise, ‘Electoral Commission of Zambia Must Fall’ will be loaded.

African deposed presidents

Africa is a continent with great potential, but the leadership is a curse. My fear is it will only get worse as the young people have picked up selfish motives and learnt from their selfish leaders. However, I still have hope if we have countries where the youth stand up and show that they will live with the repercussions of decisions and selfishness of old presidents who would have been long dead.
Here are a couple of African presidents that have been deposed of and it should serve as a lesson for modern day presidents that after you are gotten rid of, it’s not all rosy. In Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh came to power in 1994 through a bloodless coup and ruled for more than 22 years amid human rights abuses to silence opponents. In 2017, Gambians elected an opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow who was at the time in neighbouring Senegal. Barrow had to wait for weeks during a stand-off between himself and Jammeh until Jammeh flew into exile to Equatorial Guinea with his family and has not been heard of since.
Chad’s Hissene Habre’s rule from 1982 to 1990 was marked with Human rights abuses that eventually saw him forced from power by current president Idriss Delby. For more than 20 years, Habre lived in luxury while in exile in Senegal until paramilitary police took him into custody and has been sentenced to life in prison making him the first conviction of a former head of state by an African Court for crimes against humanity. The other African head of state worth mentioning is Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam who ruled from 1974 to 1991 and is blamed for the killing of hundreds of students. He has since fled to Zimbabwe and was hosted by former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe. Mengistu was convicted in absentia by an Ethiopian court in 2006 of genocide and later sentenced to death, but Zimbabwe has refused to extradite him. One last mention and a good example of a president trying to hold on to power is that of Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore who came into power through a bloody coup in 1987 that killed that country’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara. After ruling for more than 27 years, Compaore, tried to change the constitution to seek another term in office (Does this sound familiar in a Zambian context: Remember F.T.J Chiluba’s third term bid?). Faced with a popular uprising, he was forced to step down in 2004.


Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Malawi had served one term prior the 2019 elections and despite him being declared winner which enables him to go for a second term, the people are protesting. Mutharika may be delaying the inevitable, that is, his removal from office. The people of Malawi are saying, ‘Mr. Mutharika, you served one term, please go!’ The same message may be echoed in 2021 in Zambia and if the will of the people is not with the government, no matter what you do as a government, it will never be good enough because the citizenry do not want you. Let us be careful as we approach 2021 for ‘The One Zambia, One Nation’ we so love will disappear and that will surely break Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda’s Heart.

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  1. A very well written article. Factual and precise analysis.
    Truly a wise man will learn from the mistakes of others. I know some here will come and brand this man as UPND, but I encourage you to be objective. What Mr. Lungu and his freinds are trying to do with bill 10 is usurp the authority of zambian citizens and deprive them of their rights and perpetuate their stay in power. Learn from the examples cited in this article

    • The problem in Zambia is the opposition and their surrogate NGO s. We have the most useless Opposition who cannot mobilise anything.

    • Lungu and PF have been following events in Zimbabwe, Sudan and Malawi and are scared stuff and are now taking steps to ensure that such a Rebellion in Zambia doesn’t occur. That is why Amendment Bill No.10 is a do or die issue for ECL and PF. Bill No.10 gives Lungu and PF a head start to Rig the 2021 Election. That is why all Progressive Zambians must stop Bill No.10 at all costs. The anti Jane Ansah Protests in Malawi will be a Pick Nicky compared to the Anti Essau Chulu Protests in Zambia. With a collapsing Economy, High Cost of Living, High Debt etc the Prospects for Riots in 2021 should ECL and PF Rig those Elections are very high. ECL and PF think that Zambians are foolish and docile but they will be shocked. The writing is on the Wall

    • Well, Aristide Bance this is Zambia, the Real Africa, says CC.
      ZAMBIA THE REAL AFRICA could have been coined in some context by one Caristo Chitamfya (CC).
      Some say Zambia ichalo chaba christiani but don’t mind the happenings in side.

      Vistors like us alot and say we’re friendly, welcoming and peaceful people.

      Disgruntled people label us docile, whatever they mean (the context). We don’t mind

      But we are Zambia, we stand and sing of Zambia proud and free. Very democratic, forgiving, patriotic and intelligent. Whether we are the Real Africa, we will leave it up to CC.
      We talk, fight, laugh, joke, drink, s3x, play, pray and are hiper political and ambitious.
      Malawi look up to a big brother, and that’s Zambia the peace of…

    • of Africa Ushusha?
      Kikikikikikijukija don’t mind the jargon were just normal people trynna survive.

      If you are a foreigner trynna teach us how to live, we will rain on you like red hot brimstone, the likes worse than Sodom and Gommorah.
      Overzealous foreigners and locals want to take on us, the action backfires, usually.
      We are a beakon of peace and our current POTROZ ECL just gained himself and Zambia Kudos in the SADC fwatile fwatile for monitoring and witnessing peaceful elections in your country Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and other Countries in the region. So much like Double K earned himself kudos in the region and internationally for denying himself and the country’s development by spending Zambian Kwacha liberating our fellow people across Africa from the…

    • … shackles of colonialism. So much to talk about but in a nutshell, that is Zambia for you. Proud and free.

    • Lungu and PF don’t learn anything from Sudan and Malawi. They think Zambians are naive and docile to organize “Anti Jane Ansah ” type of protests in Zambia. If they embark on such Protests Lungu will crush them. That’s the thinking and theory but unfortunately History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes. As EIU has predicted the 2021 Elections in Zambia will turn violent if Lungu persist on his Plans to Rig the Election thru Amendment Bill No.10 and other Rigging tricks like gerrymandering constituencies. The writing is on the Wall.

    • That cannot happen in Zambia because our elections are transparent. Anyone can do PVT and verify results. The opposition like claiming about rigging without any evidence.
      For now there is no opposition that can beat PF in a clean election. The opposition in Zambia just like opposing everything and insulting. They sell no idea and seem to have no clue on how to manage our affairs.
      They can only win if insults are counted as votes. Just read their new insults that will follow my comment.

  2. That cannot happen in Zambia. Zambians are docile and timid. In Zambia, citizen would rather complain than doing it the Malawi way. After all, we are a Christian Nation. Violence is not part of us. It is not in our vocabulary. We will complain, but there after, it will be business as usual. This timidity has even pushed our nation in a pit of mediocrity and poverty. We cannot emulate Malawi. Ours is a nation full of docile people. #PFMUSTBEKICKEDOUT

      They need a revolt.
      Peace and revolts have no common place. Like darkness and light.
      No such thing as peaceful revolt.
      The light can be bright or dim.
      Thank God for our “Docility”. We shall change leaders by a vote not by pangas and witchery activities. Development will be our yardstick for choosing who goes to plot 1. We did it on double K, LPM, RB, MCS and ECL.
      Ain’t no skipping this one. Every jim and jack who wants plot 1, go through the polls. For now face Esau Chulu and his subordinates is the only way.
      We have unanimously sworn to do it this manner.
      It is this way or the highway. Come sunlight, come rain.
      Who the cap fits, let them worry.
      Mulimbe basankwa.

    • Christian as we may be..but remember a hungry man is an angry man. The same analysis of Zambians being docile will surprise u when people rise. We can not take refuge in that ideal. It may disappear. Right now we are dealing with a fractured Zambia on tribal lines…any spark can ignite a fire we can not quench.

    • Chuma boy relax.
      That is misinformation.
      Be a Zambian proud and free.
      Zambia shines like a star in the region.
      We have retaught most folks in the world democracy.


  3. We used to have the first past the post until the last election but in the proposed NDC amendments they want to revert to the first past the post system. Malawi has its own problems based on ethnicity something Hastings pushed so much so what one sees is the explosion of what was hidden. In Kenya same issues one tribe having all result? kaboom

    • Say NDF as in National Dialogue Forum not NDC as in the now deregistered National Democratic Congress. You are confusing me kid.

      Amen kid son!

  4. Politicians don’t learn from each other. Lungu and PF are busy scheming how to rig the 2021 Election and retain Power. Their Enemy is the dying Economy, high unemployment, high cost of living, corruption, high Debt etc. History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes. Let’s wait and see!

    • Relax iwe.
      Wait this just August 2019.
      Meet you in 2021 as the PFs do a ka reload.
      Brace your poor sour and hold your peace. Who told you policians will literally put food on your table?
      Stop blogging and Get to work, sha!

  5. Whenever we are approaching elections Prophets of doom start showing up. We have heard this several times. Remember the bloodshed that Nevers Mumba saw towards the removal of Kaunda? A lot will be said but come 2021, Zambians will vote for the President and Party of their choice. ECZ will declare the winner, the loser will petition and things will return to “normal”. The only thing I will advise fellow Zambians is work up early in the morning, work hard and whatever you do. These politicians will never get you out of Poverty. Your hard work will.

    • Kci, you are right. All Nations we envy have actually worked hard for themselves to be where they are. The writer has given many examples of leadership changes but has not said what good things changes have brought. I will again say it again whether KK, FTJ, LPM, RB, MCS, ECL, HH, KAMBWILI, you name them, they all lie that they will put food on our tables, yet the opposite is true and they say it because they know that it is the truth.

  6. I really dont understand or rather see no credibility in this article. Zambia has had elections from 1991 and it shall be so peacefully. The winner shall be declared and the losers must congratulate the victor. Trying to hoodwink people that because someone has been losing elections so often then in 2021 he will win is like making fire from water. It doesnt work like that. Elective positions are NOT rotational but issue based and the based candidate who the electorate feel comfortable with will be given the mandate based many factors and certainly NOT promises and lies.

  7. U sound too optimistic. Lungu knows he can’t win the 2021 Election thru a Popular Vote. He has to smartly rig the Election to retain Power. People can vote for a Leader of their choice but their Vote can be stolen. In 2016 HH and UPND failed to protect their Vote and Lungu and PF stole the Vote and retained Power. With all the Corruption and theft these People are more determined to retain Power at all costs and avoid Prosecution. This is my concern!

  8. We are not Malawians although we have so many Malawian economic refugees masquerading as Zambians. Only followers of the Freemason can kill others when he loses elections, they did it in January 2015 and August 2016. Now we know them very well, let them dare us they’ll see that we don’t condone such backwardness here. As much as we sympathize with Malawi, I can only urge Authur Peter Mutharika to deal with the trouble makers decisively. Here, if the followers of the Freemason misbehave they will spend years in prison with their leader such that not even the Commonwealth will intervene. Malawi is bigger than Chakwera and Chirima, let them behave. Their time will come, if Malawians want them to rule

  9. In Africa political pandemonium is masterminded by the colonialists (the western block)especially when they observe that their former colonies are under influence of countries like China,Russia or let me say communist ideology.Capitalists (democratize states) pushes their political ideology to countries rather than respecting African leaders.Colonial masters still want to reap off greater chunks of natural resources. This alone is a problem that hasn’t gone away.They show cranium influences by funding opposition political parties,supporting pressure groups,forming NGOs as their mouthpieces.
    Today small states (nations) have political turmoil because of third imperialism.

  10. The desperation by Lungu and PF to successful rig the 2021 Election thru Amendment Bill No.10 could backfire. People are Angry and Hungry due to High Cost of Living, unemployment, PF Corruption etc and will tolerate a Rigged Election. By August 2021 The Zambian Economy will not recovered from the current depression so People will be temperamental. A rigged Election and Poorly performing Economy will bring violent protests to Zambia. The Powers that be better handle the Political situation carefully.

    • @Moya, Zambian people are interested in peace. Not food, corruption etc. I do not know whether you have been or seen what happens in certain countries around the globe. What I mean war-torn countries. It is pathetic there, you spend sleepless nights, no food, no clean water, no power and so many other effects. But here in Zambia ati corruption, unemployment, rigged elections!!! Start ulimi (farming) if you cannot find job and bet; you will be one of the rich citizens of the country. I for one have done that, I am a proud owner of a luxury house at my own land in a remote area of Zambia. I own a fleet of vehicles, plenty of food. Even if you vote for another government, that poverty will be on you. The new government will not put food on your tables. So change your mindset bane…

  11. Very Biased analysis of singling the Current government as not being wanted by the People of Zambia. I rubbish this article as it is bent on inciting the people of Zambia against the current government. You should have just encouraged all players in the political realm to practice fairness, transparency,impartiality, tolerance and patience. These goes to both opposition and ruling parties.

  12. Why do social scientists like writing long senseless articles? Malawi is actually going through what Zambia has already gone through. There is no lesson to learn apart from the fact that social scientists don’t make good leaders as they know nothing about wealth creation

  13. We don’t have to get granted of us, Zambian reactions after rigged or stolen votes for granted. Things changes but we’ve to be cautious of what we say ourselves.

  14. A good article indeed, the current situation in Zambia does not favour any political opponents and people’s democratic rights and best we can do is learn from young democracy like South Africa and Malawi etc

Comments are closed.

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