The beginning of each year brings a time of reflection – of what we at the Maravi Post accomplished, what our new goals will be and for what we are grateful for and those that we would like to redo. At the Maravi Post, we are proud of our reporting in 2019, busy with big plans for 2020 and thankful for the support of our readers, advertisers and material supporters.
All of you are the reason we are able to do what we do and enhance the quality of life in our country and many countries in Africa. Because of our ever-growing readership in Malawi and beyond, we can investigate wrongdoing and shine a light on injustice. Because of you our readers in many countries and the Diaspora, we can give voice to those who are not being heard. Because of you, we can provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and perspectives. Because of you, we can spark the change that makes Malawi a more resilient, understanding and welcoming place.
It is normal for us at this time of the year to nominate 2019 person of the year. However, this year no one really stood out who merited this honor. Many of our Politicians did not acquit themselves well after the May 2019 Elections. However, the fact that Malawi survived a second test to its constitution after the contested and challenged Elections which are now awaiting a ruling by the courts deserves a mention.
We covered a lot of stories that our readers told us made a difference and affected them in some way or another.
Here are a few examples of how you’ve helped us make a difference:
First Constitutional test
The Malawi Election Case was a test to our young Democracy. So far, I would say we passed our second test. The first being the ascendency to power of Joyce Banda after the death of Bingu WA Mutharika. Six Members of Cabinet including Now President Peter Mutharika tried to by-pass the constitution and make the younger brother President. After a tense few days Malawi and its democracy prevailed.
Joyce Banda was sworn in on 7 April 2012 as President of Malawi, the first woman to hold the office. Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo presided over the ceremony which was held at the National Assembly in Lilongwe. After she was sworn in, Banda appealed for national unity.
The US, one of Malawi’s donors, expressed alarm at the official silence and said it was confident that the constitution would be upheld and came out in support of Banda. The constitutional succession has a direct impact on donor funding in Malawi. Keith Somerville, a career journalist with the BBC and visiting lecturer at the University of Kent, described Malawi’s international financial crisis: “Britain is Malawi’s main bilateral donor and was expected to provide aid worth £90m in 2011, before the rupture in relations.
The German government halved its budget support contribution in 2011 and the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation is withholding a 350-million-dollar grant to rehabilitate Malawi’s failing energy network. Donor aid accounts for 40 per cent of Malawi’s national budget. The US government has already put out a positive statement saying, ‘By following constitutional procedures for this transition, the government and people of Malawi have reaffirmed their commitment to democratic principles …We stand with the people of Malawi during their time of mourning, and look forward to deepening the partnership between our nations.'”
Midnight Six Arrested
In January 2013, a commission of inquiry published a 90-page report about the events surrounding Mutharika’s death. On March 10, the police began arresting the Midnight Six and others allegedly involved. This included Midnight Six members Patricia Kaliati, Henry Mussa, and Kondwani Nankhumwa. It also included Peter Mutharika (President Mutharika’s brother), Goodall Gondwe, the Minister of Economic Development, and the Chief Secretary, Bright Msaka. The arrests sparked protest from DPP supporters in Blantyre who smashed cars and destroyed property. The crowds were dispersed through tear gas. By March 13, twelve top officials had been arrested, this included ex-ministers Henry Mussa, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Jean Kalirani, Patricia Kaliati, Kondwani Nankhumwa, the Deputy Chief Secretary to the Government, Necton Mhura and Duncan Mwapasa
Second Constitutional test
The results of the 2019 elections were highly controversial and opposition leaders led by Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima disputed the results in court. They also resulted in nation-wide protests in May, June, and July 2019 in which supporters of the opposition accused the results of being rigged by Peter Mutharika and Jane Ansah. They also called to the resignation of the Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Jane Ansah. Malawian youth organized a Jane Ansah Must fall campaign which included multiple days of protest in several cities. In response, thousands of women in Malawi held “I am Jane Ansah” solidarity protests after alleging that Ansah was the victim of gender discrimination.
The day of judgment in the historic presidential elections case is not known—it may be within the next 45 days, or more, or less—but come what may, it will come after the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) last month heard the last of all arguments by all parties to the case.
Saulos Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera, the two petitioners and presidential candidates seeking the nullification of the May 21 presidential elections that re-elected President Peter Mutharika were once again in court—as they have done on most of the 61 days the court has sat in the capital.
In front of them, a team of now battle-scarred lawyers, silver haired senior counsels to young lawyers supporting their titanic battles and in front of all—a panel of five judges: Justice Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo—who are now faced with making the most momentous decision any Malawian court has ever made.
What this means is that we have so far passed our second test. The three constitutional parts of Government are working.
Death of Mugabe
We reported the death of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader, who died aged 95.
He died after battling ill health, his family confirmed to the BBC. Mr Mugabe had been in hospital in Singapore since April.
He was ousted from power in a military coup in November 2017, ending his three-decade reign.
He won Zimbabwe’s first election after independence, becoming prime minister in 1980. He abolished the office in 1987, becoming president instead.
President John Magufuli
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Monday rejected calls from some of his supporters to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limit of two, five-year terms, bucking a trend in the region.
Several leaders including Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza have all tinkered with or defied their constitutions to extend their rule.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has let out the most vital secret that set him apart in the African business terrain.
In a say-it-all gathering, at a recent engagement with some of Africa’s young entrepreneurs, the Nigerian businessman revealed that he sacrificed personal pleasures, brushing aside the temptations that were sweeping in as he made big profits and decided to re-invest his profits into his business instead of clinging onto a luxuries of life.
We are very proud of our reporting and of course our team of reporters and staff, which was honored with 500% growth in readership reaching over a million readers a month and over 100 countries. This speaks to the importance of our work and the experienced, dedicated and courageous journalists who bring it to you.
But most of all, we are proud of the loyalty of our readers and advertisers who make it all possible, and for this we are eternally grateful. Thanks for reading the Maravi Post and Its sister publications, and best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!