Cape Town - Malawi is operating without a president at the moment - at least, that’s what the opposition and many of Malawi’s citizens believe.
President Peter Mutharika won the general elections in May 2019, but his opponents and many in civil society say he won it fraudulently.
The country has been wracked by political protests following Mutharika’s narrow win. The opposition boycotted his State of the Nation Address last week, and clashes with police continue in the streets.
There have been claims some of the ballots in the May election had been tampered with, with some offering evidence that votes were Tippexed out with correction fluid.
It’s been more than a month since Malawi went to the polls, but the people there claim nothing is being done about the allegations of vote-rigging.
The Malawi Congress Party filed an injunction with Malawi’s High Court on May 25.
The High Court responded by postponing the release of the final vote count.
Political party UTM then lodged more than 200 complaints with a court in Blantyre.
Later that day, on May 27, Mutharika was declared the winner of the election.
On June 6, Malawians took to the streets in protest, demanding a recount of the vote. They clashed with police, who responded with teargas.
Several people sustained injuries during those protests, which included a sit-in outside the ruling party’s headquarters in Lilongwe.
Two weeks later, about 15 000 supporters of the opposition marched to the government offices in the capital, Lilongwe, demanding the resignation of the electoral commission’s chief Jane Ansah.
Again, the protesters were hit with teargas.
They claimed Ansah failed to deal with the more than 140 elections-related complaints lodged against the commission in light of the vote-rigging allegations.
So, why are the people so anti-Mutharika?
During his first term as president of the landlocked nation of about 20 million residents, he managed to roll out major infrastructure upgrades, and oversaw a slow-down in inflation.
During his State of the Nation Address, he said he expected Malawi’s economy to grow by 5%, up from 4% in 2018. This, he said, would be driven by agriculture, mining, ICT and financial services.
But, recently, Mutharika has been accused of corruption and cronyism, and the people want him out.
Protests look set to continue, with high unemployment, poverty and rolling electricity blackouts among the main reasons behind the citizens’ anger.
The concerned residents have taken to social media to air their views as well.
This is a developing story we’ll definitely keep our eyes on here on NewsByte.