Lazarus Chakwera: the President of Malawi who ‘argued with God’

Lazarus Chakwera addressing a campaign rally (file photo)Image copyright


Lázaro Chakwera’s political fortune was revived by a court ruling that annulled last year’s failed elections.

In the unmistakable cadence of a preacher, Malawi’s new president, Lázaro Chakwera, called for unity in his country shortly after he was sworn in on Sunday.

The day of the week seemed appropriate when the former head of the Malawi Assemblies of God, one of the country’s largest Christian denominations, treated the stage like a pulpit to inspire fervor with his words.

The country fractured after a 13-month split after the disputed 2019 election, the outcome of which was canceled by the courts.

Speaking in a style and accent that had hints of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, President Chakwera spoke about the dream “that unites us.” [which] it is for us to enjoy shared prosperity, not just freedom. “

Lazarus Chakwera

Jacob Nankhonya

We must all wake up because this is the moment to emerge from the dream and make our dream come true “

But then he said it was not good to have a dream.

“The time has come to go beyond dreaming.

“We all need to wake up because this is a time to emerge from the dream and make our dream come true.”

Chakwera is a man of God in a deeply religious country.

The 65-year-old man emerged as the leader of the Malawi Congress Party in 2013 without having any previous political experience.

Fighting with god

He came to work after leading the Assemblies of God for 24 years, but admitted, when he ran for president in 2014, that making the decision to become a politician was not easy.

“I had to argue with God about a direction in life that didn’t seem natural to me,” he said in a video posted by the San Andres Presbyterian Church in California.

But after much discussion “God was saying that: ‘I am extending his ministry so that he can shepherd an entire nation.'”

  • How Courageous Judges Rejected a ‘Second Category Election’
  • A quick guide to Malawi

In another interview, in 2017, he said that in conversations with God he turned to chapter three of the book of Exodus in the Bible, in which God appears to Moses and tells him that he must take the Israelites out of Egypt.

This showed him how a leader can address people’s spiritual and social needs, his adviser Sean Kampondeni told the BBC.

But he does not want to make Malawi a theocracy and he does not want to proselytize, either, he added.

Image copyright
fake pictures


The result of the 2019 elections, which was later annulled, was received by widespread protests.

“The president believes that government is something to which God subscribes in nations to achieve order and progress in society, for the flourishing of human beings,” said Kampondeni.

“In Malawi, he feels that government institutions have been deliberately paralyzed in the last 25 years not to provide that service and he is there as someone who offers to do it.”

Lazarus Chakwera


Lazarus Chakwera

President of Malawi

  • Born April 5, 1955

  • Studied theology in Malawi, South Africa and the United States

  • Pastor and leader ofMalawi Assemblies of God church

  • Author various books on religion, including Reach the Nations

  • Ran for president in 2014 and came in second

  • He became presidentin 2020 after defeating the incumbent

Source: BBC Monitoring

Standing on the cusp of power and addressing the nation on Sunday, Chakwera has come a long way from the boy who grew up in a village outside the capital, Lilongwe, who, by his own admission, was paralyzed by shyness.

The son of a preacher and evangelist who established several churches, his career as a pastor may have already appeared.

But at his prestigious high school, where he learned his accent by imitating an American teacher, he initially had the ambition to be a doctor.

He thought that as a doctor he would have to speak to a large number of people, he told journalist Joab Chakhaza in an interview in 2017.

Political and spiritual leadership

But during his education he says that he “met God” and “began to redirect my life to the ministry.”

The father of four now wants to take that energy and vision and put it to work in one country.

For those who think there is a big difference between the lofty goals of spiritual leadership and poor political competition, the Chakwera adviser said the president knew very well how to be a politician.

“Anyone who understands the political process and the trip to the presidency, politics does not start when you take office,” Kampondeni told the BBC.

“You have to do a lot of politics even to enter public office.”

But, he said, the president’s approach will be different and he will not treat it as foul play.

Now you will have to use your ability to unite the country.

Image copyright


The new president’s adviser said being elected taught Chakwera how to be a politician.

Addressing the nation and not just the crowds of jubilant supporters in Lilongwe, Chakwera said those who did not vote for him may view his presidency with “fear and grief.”

But he tried to reassure them.

“This new Malawi is a home for you too, and as long as I am its president, it will be a home where you will also thrive.”

The defeat of incumbent President Peter Mutharika was so overwhelming, with 59% of the vote, that initially many will be prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, journalist Chakhaza told the BBC.

Transcending tribalism

“But it has a huge task since the previous regime was so openly tribalist in its appointments of people and people felt marginalized, especially from the central and northern regions,” he added.

There will be pressure to try to rebalance the past and people “will be eager to see if it can transcend that.”

Supporters of the President believe that he can and will offer a new kind of leadership inspired by God and driven by the needs of the Malawians.

However, inevitably difficult decisions will have to be made, not only regarding the immediate challenge of the coronavirus, but also how to tackle corruption and foster economic growth. These can begin to prove their popularity.