ANALYSIS OF MALAWI AND SOUTH AFRICAN ELECTIONS
By Paul Ndiho
Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa’s president was sworn in as last month vowing to create jobs and tackle deep-rooted corruption that has stifled economic growth. Meanwhile,
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika took the oath of office and allegiance after winning the country’s May 21 elections. He called on his opponents to accept the results.
Newly-elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is committed to tackling severe challenges the country faced at his inauguration ceremony in Pretoria. He committed being sworn in as South Africa’s fifth president since the end of Apartheid in 1994.
Ramaphosa pledged to root out corruption and to address socio-economic problems plaguing South Africa. And also announced a new, leaner cabinet for South Africa.
As he looks to meet a pre-election pledge to reform and revive an ailing economy and attract foreign investment.
Half of those appointed are women, making the country the third on the continent, after Ethiopia and Rwanda, to achieve gender parity among its ministers.
“All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties that our country is going through right now, but they’re also aware of the constraints that have been placed on our public finances. It is therefore imperative that in all areas and spheres of government, we place a priority on revitalizing our economy, while at the same time exercising great care in the use of public funds.”
A political analyst says having a small cabinet was good for business and investment, showing a sign of decisiveness and political stability.
“The cabinet shows a certain level of dynamism. It’s efficient, and it’s meant to bring in elicit new ideas from people who were never there. Getting rid of the old tired bodies perhaps? So, there’s a heralding of dynamism, something new, right? Which is in keeping with the president’s theme of renewal.”
Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) clinched a 57.5% majority in a general election earlier in May, down from 62% in 2014 as voters turned against the ruling party due to revelations about government corruption and record unemployment.
Meanwhile, in Malawi, Peter Mutharika was sworn in as president of Malawi for a second term on Tuesday last week after a contentious election marred by allegations of fraud and vote-rigging.
The Malawi Electoral Commission announced that Peter Mutharika, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won 38.57 percent against former evangelist Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on 35.41 percent — a gap of just 159,000 votes.
“Thank you, Malawians for re-electing me as your president for the next five years.” “There is a time to argue and a time to agree. There is a time to pursue our past and goal and a time to pursue our collective national goal. This is a time to unite and develop this country.”
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda conducted the swearing-in ceremony in Blantyre’s Kamuzu Banda sports stadium.
Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera on Friday rejected the result of last week’s presidential election, saying he had launched a court battle to have the vote annulled on the grounds of fraud.
“I reject the Malawi Electoral Commission’s fraudulent presidential results,” Chakwera said in a statement. What we have witnessed in front of our very eyes is not an election, but daylight robbery, a crime against our decency as a people and our democracy as a nation.”
Chakwera lost the election by just 159,000 votes to incumbent Peter Mutharika, who was hurriedly sworn into office the day after the delayed result was issued. Third-placed presidential contender Saulos Chilima who garnered 20.24 percent, of the vote. Chilima was a vice president and member of the ruling party but quit last year to form the youth-focused United Transformation Movement.
Malawi has a “winner-takes-all” system, and in 2014 Mutharika also narrowly beat Chakwera, by a small margin. Mutharika came to power vowing to tackle corruption after the “Cashgate” scandal a year earlier revealed massive looting from state coffers.
But he has faced corruption allegations himself. Last November, he was forced to return a $200,000 (180,000-euro) donation from a businessperson facing corruption charges in a $3-million contract to supply food to the Malawi police.