In early April 2012, Malawi President Bingu
wa Mutharika died unexpectedly in a heart attack. He had
been in power since 2005. Mutharika was replaced by Vice
President Joyce Banda, who thus became the first female
head of state in southern Africa. However, Banda lost
the presidential election in May 2014 and was replaced
by Mutharika's brother Peter Mutharika who also won the
presidential election in 2019. However, the election was
disputed and after a complaint from the opposition a new
election was held on 23 May 2020.
According to the constitution, the vice president is
to take over the presidential office if the president
dies but in Malawi's case the situation was complicated.
Vice President Joyce Banda had been excluded from the
ruling party and formed her own party following a
conflict with Mutharika in 2010 (see Modern History).
Immediately after the death of the president, the
Minister of Information announced that Banda could not
take over as president because she now belonged to the
opposition. The play led to speculation that the inner
circle around Mutharika planned to try to circumvent the
constitution and install Mutharika's brother, Foreign
Minister Peter Mutharika, on the presidential post.
However, Banda himself demanded that the constitution be
followed and supported by the United Kingdom and the
Country facts and history of Malawi, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
It all ended with Banda being installed as President
on Easter Day.
The band's first action was to dismiss the country's
police chief who had been criticized for his role during
the hostile demonstrations that claimed 19 lives in the
summer of 2011 (see Modern History).
In other ways, too, Banda showed that she did not
intend to follow in her representative's footsteps. In
an attempt to gain access to new support from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government in May
wrote down the value of the country's currency, a reform
that the IMF has long called for. At one point, the
currency became a third less worthy, triggering an
extensive hoarding of goods in the cities.
The president also decided to repeal the law
prohibiting homosexual acts.
In the spring of 2013, four former ministers and
eight senior officials were arrested and charged with
planning to overthrow the government a year earlier.
Among the defendants was Peter Mutharika.
Banda also tried to do something about the extensive
corruption. About a third of the state's revenue is
estimated to disappear in the form of bribes and other
fraud. In the summer of 2013, Banda appointed Paul
Mphwiyo as new budget manager at the Ministry of
Finance. Mphwiyo immediately began reviewing the public
finance system, making it more difficult for fraudsters
to get through payouts without review. As a result,
Mphwiyo acquired many enemies. In the early autumn he
was subjected to a murder attempt.
When it became clear during the autumn that extensive
fraud had taken place within the administration, Banda
dismissed the entire government.
At the end of May 2014, presidential elections that
Banda lost to Peter Mutharika were held. The change of
presidential post happened immediately after the
In 2015 and 2016, the legal aftermath of the huge
embezzlement of state funds that came to be known as the
"cashgate" continued. Dozens of people were prosecuted
or suspended from their services and one of the top
executives was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Banda,
who moved abroad after his defeat against Mutharika, was
also accused of involvement in the cashgate and was
called for by the government in the summer of 2017.
A year later, serious corruption charges (see
Calendar) were directed against President Mutharika,
which he dismissed as an attempt to throw him ahead of
the upcoming 2019 presidential election.
Ahead of the May 2019 elections, the two major
opposition parties Malawi's Congress Party (MCP) and the
People's Party (PP) formed an alliance to defeat
Mutharika. Banda, who returned to Malawi a few months
before the election, chose to refrain from candidacy.
Instead, she stood behind MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera.
During the election campaign, Mutharika pointed out
that inflation fell during his tenure and that the road
and electricity networks were expanded. However, only
around a tenth of the residents still have access to
electricity and electricity cuts are commonplace.
Continued corruption, a growing foreign debt and food
shortages have eroded support for Mutharika. Around half
of the country's residents are classified as poor by
the World Bank and the country is dependent on aid.
Despite the problems, Mutharika won the election with
just over 38 percent of the vote, closely followed by
Chakwera. DPP also won the parliamentary elections held
at the same time. The opposition, which reported nearly
150 concerns during the election process, appealed the
result and demonstrations spread across the country
(read more in the Calendar).
In February 2020, the Constitutional Court annulled
the election results and issued new election orders. The
judges strongly criticized the electoral authority and
said, among other things, that cheating and
contravention occurred to such an extent during the
election that the result was not fair. The judgment has
been described as historic and a victory for democracy
and the independence of the judiciary.
Mutharika was not satisfied with the verdict and
tried to stop the election, but in vain. On June 23, the
Malawians returned to the polls. According to forecasts,
opposition presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera had a
good chance of winning.
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
FACTS - POLITICS
Republic of Malawi / Republic of Malawi
republic, unitary state
Head of State
Peter Mutharika (2014–)
Head of government
Peter Mutharika (2014–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Democratic Progress Party (DPP) 62, Malawi Congress
Party (MCP) 55, United Democratic Front (UDF) 10,
People's Party (PP) 5, Small Parties 5, Independent
Candidates 55 (2019) 1
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Democratic Progress Party (DPP) 51, Malawi Congress
Party (MCP) 48, People's Party (PP) 26, United
Democratic Front (UDF) 14, Small Part 2, Independent
Candidates 52 (2014)
just over 74 percent in the 2019 presidential
election; Missing information for the 2019 parliamentary
presidential and parliamentary elections 2024
- a mandate could not be added due to