Lazarus Chakwera

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Lazarus Chakwera
Lazarus Chakwera 2017.jpg
Lazarus Chakwera in 2017
6th President of Malawi
Assumed office
28 June 2020
Vice PresidentSaulos Chilima
Preceded byPeter Mutharika
Minister of Defence
Assumed office
28 June 2020
DeputyJean Munaowauza Sendeza
Preceded byPeter Mutharika
Leader of Opposition
In office
May 2014 – February 2019
Preceded byJohn Tembo
Succeeded byLobin Lowe
Member of Parliament
from Lilongwe North West
In office
May 2014 – May 2019
Personal details
Born
Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera

(1955-04-05) 5 April 1955 (age 67)
Lilongwe, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Malawi)
Political partyMalawi Congress Party, Tonse Alliance
Spouse(s)Monica Chakwera (m. 1977)
Children4
Alma materUniversity of Malawi
University of the North
University of South Africa
Trinity International University

Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera (born 5 April 1955) is a Malawian theologian and politician who has served as President of Malawi since June 2020.[1] In addition to the Presidency, he also gave himself a cabinet portfolio as Minister of Defence. He has been leader of the Malawi Congress Party since 2013,[2] and was previously Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly following highly controversial elections held on 21 May 2019 which were overturned by the Constitutional Court.[3] He was appointed chairman of SADC on 17 August[4] at the SADC 41st Annual Summit held on 9 August to 19 August in Lilongwe, Malawi. He was President of the Malawi Assemblies of God from 1989 to 14 May 2013.

Personal life[edit]

Lazarus Chakwera was born in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, on 5 April 1955[5] when the country was still under British colonial rule.[6] His father was primary school teacher and supplemented family's income through subsistence farming.[7] He married Monica Chakwera on October 8, 1977, and together, they have four children (one son and 3 daughters).[8]

Education[edit]

Chakwera graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) Degree from the University of Malawi in 1977. He studied theology and gained an Honours degree from the University of the North in South Africa and gained a master's degree (MTh) from the University of South Africa in 1991.[8] The Trinity International University in the United States awarded him a doctorate (D. Min) in 2000. He became a professor at the Pan-Africa Theological Seminary in 2005.[6]

Theological career[edit]

He worked as an instructor at the Assemblies of God's School of Theology from 1983 to 2000 where he became the Principal in 1996. He has been the co-director and a lecturer at All Nations Theological Seminary.[9] From 1989 to 2013 he presided over the Malawi Assemblies of God.[9] On 14 April 2013 he took many by surprise when he declared his intentions to run at a convention of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as president while still maintaining the Assemblies of God Presidency.[10]

Political career[edit]

Rumours of Chakwera's intention to run in the MCP's presidential race were first reported in online media on 9 April 2013.[11] They were confirmed on 14 April 2013.[10] Chakwera later submitted his nomination papers while still at the helm of the Malawi Assemblies of God.[12] The MCP convention slated for 27 April 2013 was later postponed[13] to 10 and 11 August where he was elected as the president of MCP and he represented the party in the 2014 general election. During 2014 Malawi General elections, rumors speculated in different platforms that the elections were rigged. Chakwera told all Malawians to remain peaceful, accept the outcome, and wait for the next coming elections. Besides being successful as the main opposition party president, he also served as a member of parliament for the Lilongwe North West Constituency.

Chakwera announced his resignation as the Head of the Malawian Assemblies of God, effective 14 May 2013.[14] He said this would enable him to concentrate more on front-line politics, taking the view that he was still serving God in another context.[14] Chakwera joined forces with UTM leader Saulos Chilima and multiple other parties to form the 'Tonse Alliance' in preparation for the June 2020 Malawi General elections, with Chilima running as vice president.[15] This happened when Court ruled out the 2019 General elections due to massive irregularities after DPP claimed victory.

Chakwera defeated incumbent president Peter Mutharika in the 2020 election, having obtained almost 59% of the vote.[16] Chakwera was sworn in as the sixth president of Malawi on 28 June. On this occasion, Malawi became the first African Country to have its presidential election result overturned due to irregularities and an opposition leader went on to win the rerun election. The Republic of Kenya's Supreme Court had been the very first to nullify in 2017, but the rerun election therefrom was never was won by the opposition leader.[1]

Presidency[edit]

Cabinet appointments[edit]

Soon after Chakwera's election as president, he became subject to criticism over appointing mutually related family members to cabinet. Chakwera's 31 member cabinet announced after inauguration had six members all of whom are relatives with another member of the cabinet. Mo Sidik Mia, Chakwera's running mate in 2019, was appointed Minister of Transport and Public Works and his wife Abida Mia the Deputy Minister for Lands.[17] Kenny Kandodo and his sister Khumbize Kandodo both occupied ministerial posts, the former being the Minister for Labour while the latter being the Minister for Health. Similarly, Gospel Kazako became Minister of Information while his sister-in-law Nkhuso Nkhuma became the Deputy Minister for Agriculture. More than 70% of the cabinet ministers were from the central region of Malawi, Chakwera's traditional stronghold.[18] Chakwera defended his decisions, saying that he will address concerns related to the appointments.[19]

Activists and organisations working on gender equality organised public demonstrations in October 2020 protesting against gender imbalance in public service appointments that Chakwera had made. The activists accused President Chakwera of disregarding the Malawi Gender Equality Act that demands that women should make at least 40 per cent of all public appointments. The activists sued the President over the gender imbalance in his appointments.[20][21][22] The issue is still in Court.

Trimming executive powers[edit]

Chakwera has said that he was working to trim executive powers to make Presidents more accountable to people and increase powers of other branches of the government.[23]

Chairperson of SADC[edit]

Lazarus Chakwera was elected by member states of SADC as the Chairperson of the group. He is currently the chairman of the SADC which he assumed from his predecessor, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in August 2021.[24]

Daughter's appointments[edit]

Chakwera has faced criticism for appointing his daughter and vice president Saulos Chilima's mother-in-law to diplomatic positions. The president appointed his daughter Violet Chakwera as a diplomatic secretary to Brussels and for the EU. However, the president vehemently refuted these reports as baseless and stated so on a BBC interview during his visit to the UK in 2021. Published media reports indicate that his daughter is not qualified for the job, having obtained her degree from an unaccredited institution.[25][26][27]

Foreign policy[edit]

President Chakwera has formed a strong and positive relationship with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, describing their partnership as "crucial." Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed hope for a long-term UK-Malawi partnership that focused on promoting green technologies in Malawi, and Malawi's Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako said that Prime Minister Johnson and President Chakwera would discuss "various development, trade and investment deals, which so far has been a great success and Malawi stands to benefit more and better."[28][29] After the 2021 Zambian general election in which Edgar Lungu lost to Hakainde Hichilema and then gracefully accepted the results of the election, President Chakwea said: "The pattern of peaceful transitions of power we have been seeing in our region in recent years, ... (with) Zambia being the latest member to embody that, are worthy of global acclaim and our applause."[30]

Second term[edit]

In interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Station, a local radio station, Chakwera remarked that it will be up to the people to re-elect him in 2025 when Malawi holds the next presidential elections.[31] Similarly, other senior members of his Malawi Congress Party have indicated that Chakwera will stand in 2025 because he is allowed to do so by his party's constitution.[32]

This has the potential to cause a rift between Chakwera and vice president Chilima. It is understood that the two had agreed to rotate the presidency between them prior to formation of their electoral alliance. During a political rally in the country's commercial city of Blantyre leading up to the presidential race in 2020, Chilima revealed that one of the basis for the formation of the Tonse Alliance between Malawi Congress Party and UTM was that after the first term of his presidency, Chakwera would pave way for Chilima to lead the pact in the 2025 presidential elections.[33][34] Chakwera has not directly declared his interest to stand for a second term.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Lazarus Chakwera sworn in as Malawi president after historic win". BBC News. 28 June 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  2. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Who is Malawi's new leader Lazarus Chakwera? | DW | 27.06.2020". DW.COM. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Historic! Malawi court nullifies presidential elections | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi24. 3 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Southern Africa: SADC to Hold 41st SADC Summit in Malawi". allAfrica.com. 9 August 2021. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Curriculum Vita: Lazarus M. Chakwera, BA, BTh (Hons), MTh., D.Min" (PDF). Wise One From The East. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Man of God, Welcome to Cut Throat Politics". Zodiakmalawi.com. 17 April 2013. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Personal Story of Lazarus Chakwera : AGTV". Agtv.ag.org. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Malawi on the road to 2014: Rev. Dr. Lazarous Chakwera". Nyasa Times. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  9. ^ a b "On the Road to 2014: Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera". Malawi Voice. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Chakwera guns for MCP presidency". Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Rev Chakwera, Munlo linked to MCP leadership contest: Malawi on the road to 2014 | Malawi Nyasa Times – Malawi breaking news in Malawi". Nyasa Times. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Chakwera presents nomination papers for MCP presidency: Malawi road to 2014 | Malawi Nyasa Times – Malawi breaking news in Malawi". Nyasa Times. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Malawi Congress Party convention postponed indefinitely | Malawi Nyasa Times – Malawi breaking news in Malawi". Nyasa Times. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b Politics. "Chakwera steps down as Malawi Assemblies of God president: To concentrate on front-line politics". Nyasa Times. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  15. ^ Mohamed, Hamza. "After historic election, what next for Malawi?". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Lazarus Chakwera elected Malawi President | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi24. 27 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Malawi president under fire for family appointments to cabinet". www.aljazeera.com.
  18. ^ "Anger after Malawi President Chakwera appoints family members to cabinet". The Star.
  19. ^ Chiuta, Wongani (10 July 2020). "Malawi: Chakwera Defends His First Malawi Cabinet Appointments, Denies It Stinks of Incest". allAfrica.com.
  20. ^ "Chakwera sued over gender". Malawi24. 16 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Gender Equality is a legal requirement". Social Justice Network.
  22. ^ "Malawi Women Protest Gender Imbalance in Public Service Appointments | Voice of America - English". VOA. Voice of America. 9 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Malawi President Working to Trim Executive Powers | Voice of America - English". www.voanews.com.
  24. ^ "Chakwera to lead Sadc from 2021: Malawi to hosts Heads of State summit". www.nyasatimes.com. 18 August 2020.
  25. ^ "Chakwera's Brussels' daughter obtained degree from 'Jerusalem' University | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi24. 9 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Malawi president criticised for picking daughter as diplomat". BBC.
  27. ^ "Chakwera masks his daughter to Brussels | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi24. 9 July 2021.
  28. ^ "Malawi: President Chakwera Engages British PM Boris Johnson on Climate Change". 30 July 2021.
  29. ^ https://times.mw/lazarus-chakwera-meets-boris-johnson/
  30. ^ "Southern Africa hails Zambian democracy after opposition win".
  31. ^ Khamula, Owen (10 August 2020). "Malawi: Chakwera Hints On Vying for Second Term As Malawi President". allAfrica.com.
  32. ^ "Chakwera not focusing on second term | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi 24. Malawi24. 9 August 2020.
  33. ^ "Chilima says he will be presidential candidate in future | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi24. 26 May 2020.
  34. ^ "UTM focusing on Tonse promises – Mwenifumbo | Malawi 24 - Malawi news". Malawi24. 17 May 2021.
Political offices
Preceded by President of Malawi
2020–present
Incumbent