President Bingu wa Mutharika

Malawi Presidents

Seizure of power after the president’s death

On April 5th, 2012, President Mutharika died of a serious heart attack during a private audience at around 11 a.m. in his official residence in Lilongwe. Although he was apparently dead on the spot, the government initially kept this news a secret. To buy time, the body was flown to South Africa that night. In the meantime, there were several illegal cabinet meetings, led by the Presidential Brother and Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika, at which apparently discussions were held on how to prevent the constitutional transfer of power to Vice President Joyce Banda. Banda fell out of favor with the president in 2010 after speaking out against Peter Mutharika’s candidacy in the 2014 presidential election. She was therefore expelled from the ruling party together with DPP deputy chairman Khumbo Kachali and founded her own People’s Party (PP). Since she could not be removed from her position as vice president, Mutharika completely sidelined and harassed her. The cabinet wanted to have Peter Mutharika proclaimed president instead of Banda. This plan failed, however, as the military demanded a constitutional surrender. Several ministers also declared theirs support for Banda. At the beginning of March 2013, the investigative commission formed by Banda presented its report on the hair-raising circumstances of Mutharika’s death and the resulting power struggles. This report led to the arrest of DPP leader Peter Mutharika and other leading DPP politicians at the time, as well as the incumbent Minister for Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, and incumbent chief secretary Bright Msaka on suspicion of high treason. All of the accused were released on bail after a few days. With Peter Mutharika’s election victory, no further prosecution of the case is to be expected.

A report published by Afrobarometer comparison between the governments Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda, which is based on surveys of Malawians is interesting, but should not be overestimated. He appeared before the discovery of the Cash Gate embezzlement scandal that ultimately contributed significantly to Banda’s disastrous election defeat.

Joyce Banda was sworn in as the 4th President of Malawi on April 7, 2012 in front of the Parliament in Lilongwe. It appointed the PP Vice-Chairman, Khumbo Kachali, as Vice-President. Her term of office of just over two years ended when she was voted out of office.

President Bingu wa Mutharika

The term of office of Peter Mutharika (2014-2020)

After his victory in the elections on May 20, 2014, Arthur Peter Mutharika (DPP) was sworn in as the 5th President of Malawi on May 31, 2014. His Vice President Saulos Chilima (born 1973) was CEO of the country’s largest mobile operator, Airtel, until his candidacy. Until then he had not appeared politically.

After Chilima left the ruling DPP party in July 2018 and his announcement that he would run against Mutharika in the elections in May 2019, the Vice President was largely ignored in terms of content and protocol. His name and position are not even on the official cabinet list from November 2018. Under constitutional law, however, he was still in office, as he could only be removed from office through an elaborate impeachment process. Since the ruling party DPP did not have its own parliamentary majority (it has 49 of the 193 seats), a coalition government was founded with the UDF. The UDF chairman Atupele Muluzi became a minister. In addition, numerous independent MPs had already joined the DPP or support the government.

According to cheeroutdoor, after a narrow victory in the presidential elections on May 21, 2019, Peter Mutharika was sworn in for his second (and constitutionally last) term on May 28, 2019. The former MP and Minister Everton Chimulirenji (born in 1963), who had not made much public appearance until then, became Vice President. His appointment as vice-presidential candidate in early February 2019 by Mutharika surprised. After the experience with the ambitious Chilima, the president relied on a politician who was loyal to him and who had no obvious ambitions for power.

By the decision of the Lilongwe High Court on February 3, 2020 to annul the presidential elections, the vice-president Saulos Chilima, who had been in office until the elections were declared invalid, was reinstated de jure.

The term of office of Lazarus Chakwera (from June 2020)

After the clear victory in the court-ordered repeated presidential election on June 23, 2020, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, a doctor of theology and former church president (born 1955), was sworn in as the 6th President of Malawi in Lilongwe on June 28, 2020 and gave his first speech as head of state.

The previous Vice President Saulos Chilima, who had now joined forces with Chakwera as part of a party coalition, was sworn in again for the new term of office.

The cabinet appointed by the president currently consists of Chakwera, the vice-president, 21 ministers (including only 4 women) and 8 deputy ministers (including 8 women).

In his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on September 4, 2020, Chakwera announced his plans.

Vice President Saulos Chilima explained his political ideas and goals in a public lecture.

The new government quickly found its feet. The state budget of the MCP / UTM government for the financial year 2020/21 with a volume of 2.9 billion US dollars was passed almost unanimously by parliament in October 2020. The largest individual items were in the education (21.6%), agriculture (19.9%) and health 11.5% sectors.

Cross-party consensus was also reached on important changes to the electoral law. With the votes of the opposition, the required two-thirds majority in parliament was achieved. On October 22, 2020, the Chamber decided to move election day from May to September. This was justified with the dry weather. While the absolute majority just interpreted by the Supreme Court of Appeal was retained in the presidential election, the simple majority voting system that was previously used was laid down for parliamentary and local elections. The life of the parliament elected in 2019 has been extended by a good year so that presidential, parliamentary and local elections can be held on the same day in September 2025.

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