The Vice President of Malawi Who Was Ripped from the Economy - Latest Global News

The Vice President of Malawi Who Was Ripped from the Economy

Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima has died at the age of 51 when a military plane he was flying in crashed in a forest in the north of the country.

He served as Vice President for ten years, initially under former President Peter Mutharikawho selected him from the business world for the second highest post in the government.

He was described as a “performer” and a “workaholic,” but he was probably defined by the fact that he was at the center of allegations of government corruption.

First as prosecutor, then as defendant.

Before becoming Vice President in 2014, Dr Chilima was the Managing Director of Airtel Malawi, the country’s leading telecommunications company, becoming the first Malawian to head the organisation.

Mr Mutharika reportedly said he was working with a “reliable and productive” person.

But four years later, Dr. Chilima fell out with the president, accusing the government of not doing enough to combat corruption and not protecting some people enough.

Under Malawian law, the president cannot dismiss the vice president – ​​Dr Chilima resisted calls for his resignation despite publicly challenging the government of which he was a part.

He later founded his own political party, the United Transformation Movement (UTM), which called for radical changes and reforms in the country.

He ran for president as his party’s candidate in 2019 and came third.

Mr Mutharika won that election, but it was later annulled by Malawi’s Supreme Court due to widespread irregularities.

It was the first time in Africa that an election result was annulled by a court and the incumbent president subsequently lost in a repeat election.

Dr. Chilima is the Vice President of Lazarus Chakwera in the historic repeat in 2020.

Mr Chakwera, who came second in the discredited 2019 election, was overwhelmingly elected President and Dr Chilima became his Vice President.

But the vice president would soon find himself facing allegations of corruption that he had fought so hard against in the previous administration.

He was arrested in 2022 on charges of receiving money to influence government contract awards, which he denied.

The president fired other officials named alongside him.

Since he could not dismiss the Vice President, Mr Chakwera promised that he would not assign any more official duties to Dr Chilima during his trial.

But the charges were dropped last month without explanation – a move that raises questions about how corruption cases are handled.

Prior to his role as a political heavyweight in Malawi, Dr. Chilima held other senior positions in the corporate sector, including at Coca Cola and Unilever.

He was an economist and received his doctorate in knowledge management.

During his time in government, he also served as Minister for Economic Planning and Public Sector Reforms.

The government website said he was a “performer,” a “workaholic,” and “an achiever.”

Dr. Chilima was born on February 12, 1973 in Ntcheu District, Central Malawi.

He leaves behind his wife Mary and two children, Sean and Elizabeth.

More BBC stories about Malawi:

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