Former South African president Thabo Mbeki is in Malawi, leading a group of Commonwealth observers in the state’s general elections on Tuesday, 21 May 2019.
Speaking on arrival in Blantyre on Sunday, 19 May 2019, Mbeki said his delegation’s mandate is to observe, without taking any sides, the conduct of the polls in the former British colony that became independent in 1964.
Malawians decide on Tuesday, 21 May 2019, who will lead them into the next five years, following the end of a five-year mandate of incumbent President Peter Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Mutharika is facing stiff competition from main opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera, a former pastor, whose Malawi Congress Party was second in parliament after he lost by 450 000 votes to Mutharika in the 2014 polls.
A new party called the United Transformation Movement and led by Mutharika’s vice president Saulos Chilima has great traction from the youth and is feared to grab some of the DPP’s votes come Tuesday, according an observer in the Malawi capital Lilongwe.
Former ruling United Democratic Front of Atupele Muluzi is expected to come in far from the victory stand when the tally is made public at least seven days after the 21 May polling day.
Apart from the above parties, there are two more presidential candidates standing for two smaller parties and a single independent candidate – making the line up a total of seven presidential candidates set for the showdown.
Apart from the presidential contest, Mbeki and his Commonwealth observers will also witness the polls for electing members of parliament and local government ward councillors.