Second President of Malawi
He was Malawi’s first Muslim and freely elected President.
|Year of Birth||17 March 1947|
|Place of Birth||Machinga, Malawi|
|Period of Presidency||1994-2004|
|Political Parties||United Democratic Party (UDF)|
Main Political Career
|1976||Junior Minister for Youth and Culture|
|1976-77||Minister of Education|
|1977-81||Minister without Portfolio
Secretary-General and Administrative Secretary of Malawi Congress Party (MCP)
|1981-82||Minister of Transport and Communications|
|1994-2004||President of Malawi|
Elson Bakili Muluzi was born in the village of the Machinga District, Nyasaland (now Malawi) on 17 March 1947.
After graduating from Malosa Secondary School in Zomba, he went to Europe for his higher education.
His interest from the start was in education itself. In England, Muluzi attended the Bolton College of Education.
He then moved to Denmark for additional study at the Thisted College of Further Education.
Upon his return to Malawi, Muluzi became a clerk in the colonial service of Nyasaland.
When Muluzi was principal of Nasawa Technical College in 1973, Kamuzu Banda appointed him to Parliament.
In 1975 Muluzi was elected to parliament, where he rose rapidly within the ranks of the MCP, eventually holding important positions in the party and government.
He was named Junior Minister for Youth and Culture in 1976.
Later the same year, he was promoted to Minister of Education.
He received the title of Minister Without Portfolio in 1977, as well as Secretary-General and Administrative Secretary of the Party.
He held those posts through 1981. During this period, Muluzi became one of the most powerful individuals in Malawi, a member of Banda’s inner circle.
In 1982 Muluzi abruptly fell out of favour.
This year his position was changed to Minister of Transport and Communications, clearly a demotion that sliced into his power.
He left government for the private sector shortly after this shift in his title.
For much of the time he was out of government, he served as deputy head of Malawi’s national chamber of commerce.
In 1992, he became a founding member of the UDF.
Even as president, he is referred to as Dr. Muluzi, having received an honorary degree at Lincoln University in Missouri in 1995.
Muluzi was the candidate of the opposition UDF in the May 1994 presidential election, the country’s first multiparty election.
He won the election with 47% of the vote, defeating Malawi’s leader since independence, Hasting Kamuzu Banda.
He was re-elected in June 1999, taking 52% of the vote and defeating challenger Gwanda Chakuamba who was the leader of the opposition movement.
He was limited to two terms as president, despite his efforts to amend the constitution to allow further terms.
He, therefore, handed over power to his successor after May 2004 election, in which UDF candidate Bingu wa Mutharika (who was handpicked and groomed by Muluzi) was elected to succeed Muluzi as President.
A new constitution, officially promulgated in 1995, provided the structure for transforming Malawi into a democratic society.
Muluzi’s first term in office brought the country greater democracy and freedoms of speech, assembly, and association.
Under Muluzi, there has also been a great deal of loosening of the strict rules of behaviour that existed under Banda, such as the national dress code that forbade women to wear pants and nixed long hair on men.
Muluzi pursued good relations with a number of Arab countries, toward most of which Banda had been particularly cool; he also sought to play a more active role in African affairs than is a predecessor.
Even with the controversy and questionable dealings, Muluzi was a popular leader, particularly in the southern part of the country.
He remained the Chairman of the UDF until 2009.
On July 27, 2006, Muluzi was arrested on fraud and corruption charges; he was released on bail later that day.
Muluzi was once more arrested on 26 February 2009 and initially charged with 86 counts of corruption and abuse of office.
The charges claimed that he had allegedly diverted 1.7 billion Malawi kwacha (USD11m) of donor money into his personal account, funds that came from, among others, the Republic of China, the Kingdom of Morocco and Libya.
As a former Commonwealth leader, Muluzi was invited by the Commonwealth Secretary-General to Chair the Commonwealth Observer Group which observed the 2012 generation election in Lesotho.