In 1964, Malawi became an independent
republic. After independence, Prime Minister Hastings
Kamuzu Banda gathered all political and economic power
to his own person, and banned all opposition. He
appointed himself president and the one-party system was
written into the constitution. Banda then came to rule
Malawi as dictator for almost 30 years.
Malawi was transformed into a police state, where
opposites were imprisoned, murdered or forced into
exile. The bandas feared secret police also reached
beyond the borders of the country and committed murder
of exile Malawi. Malawi came to be called "the land
where silence prevails", because no one dared to openly
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Malawi. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
It was not until 1992 that the regime met with open
criticism when the Catholic Church spoke in a shepherd's
letter. The letter, which was read in all Catholic
churches, criticized the regime's violation of human
rights and the ban on opposition groups. Soon, others
agreed to the criticism. A strike in southern Malawi
turned into a violent protest against the regime. In May
of that year, the donors withdrew all support except
humanitarian aid and demanded increased respect for
In October 1992, Banda was forced to call a
referendum on the introduction of multi-party systems. A
number of political parties were formed. In the June
1993 referendum, a clear majority voted for multi-party
In May 1994, the first free elections were held.
Banda's long reign of terror was broken when he clearly
lost the presidential election against Bakili Muluzi,
leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF)
who also won the parliamentary elections and
subsequently formed government.
One of the most important tasks of the new government
was to investigate the human rights violations committed
during the Bandar regime. Banda himself was placed under
house arrest at the age of 97 and died two years later
at a hospital in South Africa.
When the second free elections were held in June
1999, the UDF won a scarce victory and also Muluzi was
re-elected by a marginal margin. Protests against
irregularities in connection with the election were
rejected by the court.
During Muluzi's second term, the division within the
UDF intensified and several cases of corruption were
discovered within the state administration. Muluzi was
forced to kick several ministers. But the biggest
scandal for the UDF government was that the country's
entire corn reserve was sold out just before Malawi was
hit by a famine in 2002. Aid donors suspected that a
number of politicians and officials had sold the corn
and made big profits. Over three million people became
dependent on food aid for their survival.
Under the Constitution, a president can only be
re-elected once and when Muluzi failed to get the rules
changed, he appointed Bingu wa Mutharika to the UDF
candidate in the 2004 presidential election. Mutharika,
who was an economist and had made a career abroad, won
by almost 36 percent of the votes. In the parliamentary
elections, however, the UDF fell sharply back and failed
to get its own majority. Malawi's Congress Party (MCP)
became the largest party, but the UDF allied with a
number of smaller parties and could thus continue to
Mutharika initiated a policy of tightening government
spending as well as taking action against corruption,
which was considered to be a major cause of the UDF's
election defeat. But his fight against corruption was
not liked by everyone in the party top, including
President Muluzi. The power struggle led Mutharika in
early 2005 to leave the UDF and form a new party, the
Democratic Progress Party (DPP).
A number of leading UDF members followed.
The battle between Mutharika and Muluzi escalated.
Muluzi, suspected of embezzling large sums of aid, was
indicted for corruption. For his part, Mutharika was
accused by opposition politicians of using state funds
to form the DPP.
The contradictions periodically crippled
parliamentary work during the 2004–2009 term of office.
The opposition demanded that the members who switched to
the DPP after the 2004 elections should be excluded from
Parliament. The matter was decided by a court that gave
the opposition the right, but Mutharika managed in
various ways to escape the requirement of exclusion.
In the years before the 2009 elections, economic
growth was high and poverty declined, which favored
Mutharika, who was re-elected president in May 2009 with
two-thirds of the vote. In the parliamentary elections,
which were held at the same time, President Mutharika's
party gained DPP its own majority.
In line with the election success, Mutharika
displayed increasingly authoritarian features. The
President took his brother Peter Mutharika into the
government, and it was obvious that he wanted to see his
brother as the DPP's candidate in the next presidential
election when he himself could not stand.
But soon the problems for Mutharika accumulated. The
global financial crisis that erupted in 2008 led to an
acute shortage of foreign currency. Oil imports could
not be paid and severe fuel shortages occurred. The
situation caused protests and the government was subject
to growing criticism. Mutharika was also attacked by its
popular Vice President Joyce Banda, who was therefore
excluded from the party. Banda then formed its own
party, the People's Party (PP).
Concerns deepened in 2011. When it became known that
a British diplomat in Malawi had written a critical
report on Mutharika, the president terminated diplomatic
relations with Britain. The British responded with the
same coin and withdrew their assistance to Malawi. Other
donors followed suit and suddenly a huge hole in
Malawi's budget was largely funded with aid money. The
shortage of hard currency became acute, and fuel prices
in particular shot up.
During the spring and summer, the protests culminated
in increasingly difficult living conditions and against
the government. Demonstrations were banned and at least
19 people were shot dead by police.
In April 2012, Bingu wa Mutharika passed away
quickly. For several days, the death was kept secret
while a circle of ministers in violation of the
Constitution planned to install Peter Mutharika as
successor. However, Banda demanded that the constitution
be followed and supported by the United Kingdom and the
United States. Finally, the military stood on Banda's
side and she could take up the presidential post.
Bingu wa Mutharika wins presidential election
In the presidential election, the former minister and economist at the World
Bank Bingu wa Mutharika, who is a candidate for the UDF, wins by almost 36
percent of the vote. John Tembo from MCP comes in second place with just over 27
percent of the vote.
The parliamentary elections, held the same day, will be a hardship for the
UDF. The party is almost halved and allowed to settle for 49 of the 193 seats.
The largest party will be the MCP with 57 seats. 40 independent members are
elected to Parliament, and a multi-party coalition gets 25 seats. Despite the
electoral defeat, the UDF manages to create a majority in Parliament with the
support of the Republican Party and a few other small parties.
International election observers see major shortcomings in the election and
criticize, among other things, the way in which voting lengths have been
established. In anticipation of the election result, which is delayed, the
opposition is holding demonstrations that in some places are turning into crowds
with several casualties.