Meet Lazarous Chakwera, the new pastor of 17 million

Lazarous Chakwera

Malawi's new president Lazarus Chakwera first emerged on the political scene towards Malawi's 2014 presidential elections having spent much of his life doing the work of God in the Assemblies of God Church.

On Saturday night, the Malawi Electoral Commission announced him as the winner of the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election with a dominant 58.57% of the vote ahead of incumbent President Peter Mutharika.

Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, won 38 percent of the vote in last year's nullified elections in which Chakwera garnered 35 percent.

Malawi's president elect Chakwera says he ventured into politics in answer to God's call.

"One day God spoke to my heart, and God was not saying I'm pulling you out of ministry, God was saying I'm extending your ministry so that you are able to pastor a whole nation," he said in a recent video clip released during the electoral campaign.

Chakwera in Dowa
Chakwera on the campaign trail

Chakwera, 65, has for the past seven years led Malawi's oldest party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which ruled the country for three decades from 1964 to 1994 under dictator Hastings Banda's one-party rule.
The Malawi Election Commission declared him the victor on Saturday with

He ran for president in 2014 and 2019, placing second both times. The 2014 vote though was subsequently annulled by the courts.

The MCP had lost all five presidential elections since 1994 but Chakwera's joining forces with the vice president Saulos Chilima has helped return the party into power.

What is Chakwera's vision for Malawi? 

Chakwera has campaigned on a ticket to transform Malawi into a middle income economy by building a capable democratic developmental state. 

Five core pillars underpin his approach to governance: he values servant leadership; uniting Malawians; prospering together; ending corruption; judicial independence and rule of law.

Chakwera has outlined several key initiatives, including a universal fertilizer subsidy to guarantee food security for every household, and has promised to create 1 million jobs by revamping industries that would add value to the crops of Malawian farmers.

Much like his biblical name implies, Lazarus Chakwera has made a comeback in Malawian politics, and in a big way. 

Under his leadership, Chakwera wants to propel his country forward and turn it into "a New Malawi".

Chakwera is married to Monica and they have four children and grand children. He studied theology in Malawi, South Africa and the United States up to a doctorate.

A rocky road to 2020 elections

Both the Constitutional and Supreme Courts were harshly critical of how the Malawi Electoral Commission handled the election, finding the Chairperson Jane Ansah and her commissioners incompetent. 

The 2019 election results also triggered months of nationwide protests, calling for new elections and demanding the Ansah's removal.

The scrapping of Mutharika's 2019 victory by the courts was historic as it made Malawi just the second sub-Saharan African country to have presidential poll results set aside, after Kenya in 2017.