Says “I am accepting this call to serve you with joy and holy fear for I am duty bound to God and by God and all of you”
Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the former President of the Assemblies of God in Malawi has been sworn in as the new President of the country.
President Lazarus Chakwera was sworn in Sunday in the capital Lilongwe, after he defeated two candidates, including former President Peter Mutharika, in the tightly contested presidential election rerun held last week.
There was jubilation from hundreds of people who gathered at the Bingu International Convention Center, in Lilongwe to witness Chakwera and his vice president Saulos Chilima taking the oath of office from Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
“I Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera do solemnly swear that I will well and truly perform the functions of high office of president of Malawi, so help me God,” the new president said.
The presidential election rerun was held after the Constitution Court in February nullified last year’s election, which gave former president Peter Mutharika a second term, because of massive irregularities
In the court-sanctioned polls, Chakwera, leader of the opposition Malawi Congress (MCP), was a candidate for the Tonse Alliance which comprised nine political parties including United Transformation Movement (UTM) led by former vice president, Saulos Chilima.
He ran against former President Mutharika, leader of Democratic Progressive Party, (DPP) who made an alliance with Atupele Muluzi, leaders of the opposition United Democratic Party.
Chakwera won with 2.6 million votes, according to results announced Saturday, while Mutharika came second with 1.7 million votes and Kuwani won 32,400 votes.
In his acceptance speech Sunday, Chakwera pledged to develop the country beyond the expectations of Malawians.
“So I pledge to run Malawi well, because that is the surest payoff that has been long in ruins, riddled with potholes of greed and corruption. And in making this pledge, I am accepting this call to serve you with joy and holy fear for I am duty bound to God and By God and all of you,” he said.
Chakwera also appealed to those who did not vote for him, not to fear being neglected.
“I know that there are many of you who did not vote for me in this election. And perhaps the prospect of my president fills you with fear and grief, but I want you to remember one thing; so long I am its president, it will be a home in which you too will prosper,” he said.
However, many Malawians say there is nothing more they are expecting from the new president other than meeting his campaign promises.
In their campaign messages, the Tonse alliance leaders promised the creation of one million jobs within the first year, reduction of prices of fertilizers by over 400 percent, and curbing corruption, which marred the Mutharika administration.
There are high expectations from the president and his team as they were urged not to forget their campaign promises, believing it’s now time for the new president to start honouring those promises.
“What they need to do is to fulfill their promises; put the machinery in place that will focus on the implementation on the manifestos, including job creation, reduction of fertilizers among others. I think this time around they know the cost of making empty promises,” he said
Patricia Kaliati, the general-secretary of the United Transformation Movement party a key partner in Tonse alliance, told VOA the new government will even do more than what was promised during campaign period.
“Issues of infrastructure, education, health programs, issues of empowerment of women and men, youths and the status of Malawians at large which we will provide to individual person, than when he is or he is in her home, should be saying ‘yes I am in new Malawi which I was looking for,’” she said.
President Chakwera is expected to outline more of his government’s development plans during his inauguration on July 6.
Brief history of Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera
Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera was born on 5th April 1955. Until his election he was the President of Malawi’s Main Opposition Party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP). He has served as the leader of opposition in the national assembly. He was the Malawi Assemblies of God President from 1989 to 14 May 2013.
Chakwera was born in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi on 5 April 1955. He was born to a subsistence farmer in the outskirt of Lilongwe city. Two of his brothers born before him died in infancy due to high infant mortality rate. His father, believing that he would live gave him the name Lazarus as the Bible character who was raised from the dead.
He is an only son with surviving sisters. Lazarus Chakwera is married to Monica and together they have four children and grand children.
In 1977 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) Degree from the University of Malawi. He got his honours degree (BTh) from the University of the North, Sovenga, South Africa. In 1991 he got his masters (MTh), from the University of South Africa. The Trinity International University, in Deerfield, Illinois, USA awarded him a doctorate (D. Min) in 2000. The Pan Africa Theological Seminary awarded him Professorship in 2005.
He has worked as an instructor at the Assemblies of God 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. Since 1989 to date he has been at the helm of Malawi Assemblies of God presidency. On 14 April 2013 he took many by surprise when he declared his intentions to run at a Convention of an opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as a president while still maintaining the Assemblies of God Presidency. His landslide victory at MCP convention went down in history of Malawi as the first of its kind of any political party in Malawi.
Lazarus Chakwera’s interest in politics became known to the public on 9 April 2013 when rumours of his interest to join the presidential race of the MCP were on the online media. The rumours were confirmed later to the public on 14 April 2013. Chakwera later submitted his nomination papers while still at the helm of the Malawi Assemblies of God. The MCP convention slated for 27 April 2013 was later postponed to 10 and 11 August where he was elected as the president of MCP and he would represent the party in the 2014 general election.
Chakwera later announced his resignation as the Head of the Malawi Assemblies of God, the resignation would be in effect from 14 May 2013. This he said, would enable him to concentrate on front-line politics. He claims that he is still God’s minister who is serving God’s people in a different context other than the church. (With Agency Reports)
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