Reinstated Malawi Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima, right, greets lawyers on Feb. 3 in Lilongwe. (Amos Gumulira/Afp Via Getty Images)

On Monday, Malawi’s High Court nullified the country’s May presidential elections. The 500-page ruling includes a laundry list of election irregularities — and faults the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for failing to carry out its responsibilities according to the constitution and electoral law. The court ruled that President Peter Mutharika was “not duly elected” and called for fresh elections within 150 days.

The High Court’s panel of five judges further ruled that the simple plurality standard that has determined the winner of each presidential election since the return to multiparty competition in 1994 has gone against the “majority” principle in Malawi’s constitution.…  Seguir leyendo »

A tribal chief in Malawi has become an idol for hundreds of girls for her courage to break up more than 800 child marriages to send girls back to school. (Reuters)

The #MeToo movement has helped create a global spotlight on campaigns to end sexual harassment and assault, human trafficking and child marriage. These movements add to a growing emphasis on girls’ rights, highlighted by the recent trip of first lady Melania Trump to Africa — including a stop in Malawi, where she brought attention to children’s welfare.

But we find in our research that human rights campaigns can actually make child marriage worse. These efforts can backfire, causing decreased support for banning child marriage.

How we did our research

We conducted a survey experiment in Malawi in 2016 with a team of researchers at the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD).…  Seguir leyendo »

Malawi’s most prominent civil society group, the Public Affairs Committee, is organizing peaceful protests nationwide on Wednesday. The protests have been endorsed by multiple faith associations, including the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Association of Malawi, the Quddria Muslim Association of Malawi and the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Nkhoma Synod.

These religious bodies are calling on their faithful to demonstrate and get the government to reform electoral laws. Malawians will take to the streets shortly after a new report was published that raises alarms about declining freedom of speech. Here’s what you need to know:

Religion is important in Malawians’ daily lives and faith leaders challenging the government is not new.…  Seguir leyendo »

Who is responsible when the trunks of government officials’ cars are stuffed with bank notes while public hospitals are short on life-saving supplies?

In Malawi, a landlocked southern African state where more than half the population lives on a dollar a day, blame has fallen on the reformer: President Joyce Banda. Malawi is reeling from a $50 million corruption scandal that has seen Ms. Banda’s budget director shot in the face (he survived) and her justice minister charged with attempted murder (he’s out on bail).

Cashgate, as the affair is called, is dwarfed in size by the corruption of earlier administrations: Government investigators believe $500 million in donor money was lost to graft during the eight-year reign of Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi died on April 5 of a heart attack at the age of 78. His countrymen, suffering a massive economic and political crisis, seem to have declared good riddance. Some of his rogue allies apparently tried to hold on to power after his death, but democracy prevailed with the installation of the vice president, Joyce Banda, to the presidency. President Banda inherits an acute crisis much of which was Mutharika’s making.

Yet we should also remember a positive legacy of the late president, because that legacy holds a key for Africa’s future development and escape from poverty.…  Seguir leyendo »

Accusations of witchcraft in Africa have gained increasing attention because of the severe impact they can have on the lives of those accused, including imprisonment, deprivation of property, banishment from villages and in some cases physical violence.

The human-rights law program I direct recently partnered with an N.G.O. in Malawi to run a mobile legal-aid clinic focusing on witchcraft cases in two rural communities.

Men, women and children flocked to our clinic seeking legal assistance. The cases were challenging and engaged the question of how to confront accusations of witchcraft, particularly when children and elderly women disproportionately bear the brunt of such accusations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dear President Mutharika

You and I have never met, but we have long been partners, standing shoulder to shoulder in the fight against HIV/Aids, and hand in hand with the people of Malawi. I am writing as a friend.

Mr President, I have admired your efforts to bring health services and development to your people, and the Elton John Aids Foundation has proudly worked with the government of Malawi to these ends since 1998. We have made much progress together.

That is why I am most alarmed and deeply upset by the persecution of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza on the grounds of their sexual orientation.…  Seguir leyendo »

I was in Mikuyu Prison in Malawi when Nelson Mandela was released. Hearing the news, whispered to me by a daring prison guard, I instantly thought back to the day, a year earlier, when the same guard had told me the rumor that President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa was holding secret talks with Mr. Mandela. Rumors played a critical, if therapeutic, role for us; they were more reliable than the clippings from local newspapers that were smuggled into prison.

In Mikuyu, we had adopted Mr. Mandela as our hero. We had dubbed a fellow prisoner, Martin Machipisa Munthali, the Nelson Mandela of Malawi for his fortitude.…  Seguir leyendo »