Malawians went to the polls on May 20th to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. This is the first tripartite election in the history of the country with the presidential, parliamentary and local elections all being held concurrently.[1]

There were 7,535,748 registered voters. 3,481,361 were male (46.19%) and 4,056,183(58.81%) female .The polling stations were 4,449.[2]

Presidential Elections.

The constitution of Malawi provides for a 5year presidential term and one may seek re-election for a second term. Malawi has a first-past-the-post electoral system, meaning a presidential candidate needs only to win a plurality of the vote to be elected. There is no provision for a run-off.

There were 12 contenders for the president in these elections. It is important to note that out of these candidates, 2 were women, including President Joyce Banda of the People’s Party (PP) and Abusa Hellen Singh of the United Independent Party, who also had a female running mate. President Banda formed the PP party in 2014 after she was expelled from the DPP party after she refused to endorse Peter Mutharika for president.[3]

These elections have been marred by allegations of irregularities and voter fraud, and President Joyce Banda sought to annul the results and have a manual audit of the votes but she over-ridden by the High Court. The main political parties People’s Party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic Front (UDF), as well as the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) all agreed that the elections were fraudulent and as such called for a recount of the votes.[4]

Both the AU and SADC had endorsed these elections citing them as free and fair and asking the people of Malawi to accept the results. However, considering that the main political parties the PP, MCP and UDF, and eventually the Malawi Electoral Commission rejecting the results due to rigging and fraud and asking for a recount of votes, this puts the credibility of these observers in question.[5] It also vindicates President Joyce Banda since she from the on set rejected the election results due to the countless irregularities and fraud that had been experienced across the country and sought to annul the results. This did not help though as the High Court of Malawi dismissed any claims of a recount or annulment and went ahead and declared Peter Mutharika as President. He won 36.4% of the votes.[6]

Parliamentary Elections

Malawi has a unicameral parliament and a first-past-the-post system where the president and members of parliament are elected concurrently.

In the just concluded elections, 17 parties fielded candidates for the 193 Seat National Assembly.[7] The top four parties are PP,DPP, MCP and UDF, who will probably take the majority of seats between them.

Women Political Participation

Women do participate in politics in Malawi. However, Malawi, like most African countries has strong cultural constraints and traditional beliefs that women should be in the private and not public sphere.[8]

Women also have limited income and education, compared to men and yet one has to have these resources to successfully seek political office.

Also, the Constitution of Malawi (1994) makes no provisions for quotas to ensure women’s representation.  It broadly provides for gender equality in Article 13(a)(i), which provides for the attainment of gender equality through the full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equality with men”. [9] 

As of the last elections in 2009, there were 41 women out of 193 members of parliament accounting for (21.24%).[10] Hopefully we see more numbers with this election of 2014. President Joyce Banda became the first female head of state in Malawi in 2012. She had previously made history as the first female vice President of the country too. She was one of the 3 female heads of state in Africa and seen as an inspiration to young women and girls who are interested in seeking political office and leadership positions.

Joyce Banda has been seen as an icon for women empowerment, not only in Malawi, but in the rest of Africa. The sentiment before these election was that if she lost this election, she would be the first African female head of state to lose an election and it would be seen as a setback for women who want to seek leadership positions and actively participate in politics. In the words of one education and human rights activist, Benedicto Kondowe, “it will send a message about women running for office”. [11]“She had created a platform for women to climb the ladder of leadership”

She was however dogged by a corruption scandal dubbed “cashgate” which led donors to halt giving money to the Malawian government.[12] Malawi is said to be one of the poorest countries in Africa with 40% of the government budget being provided by foreign donors.


These elections have been hotly contested. President Joyce Banda was calling for an annulment of the results, citing rigging and voting irregularities. The electoral Commission dismissed her allegations initially. However, with the three big parties the PP, MCP and UDF all citing voter fraud and rigging, the Electoral Commission of Malawi had called for a month long recount of the votes. This was however rejected by the High Court, and Peter Mutharika, was officially sworn in as president, having won 36.4% of the vote. Joyce Banda came in 3rd with 20.2% of the vote.[13]


Women Political Representation Statistics

Women’s Political Representation

As of 2009

As of 2014

Female presidents


N/A (Joyce Banda became president in 2012 after the death of Bingu Wa Mutharika)


Female candidates for presidency



Female members of parliament





[2] allAfrica, Malawi: Elections 2014 Fact Sheet,

[7] allAfrica, Malawi: Elections Fact Sheet 2014,

[10] Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU PARLINE database: MALAWI (National Assembly), Elections in 2009,

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