Since attaining its independence, Malawi has had six presidents. In this article, Akometsi briefly evaluates the presidents and their remarkable contributions to this nation.
His Excellency Ngwazi Dr. Hestings Kamuzu Banda
Kamuzu Banda was the father and founder of the Republic of Malawi.
He ruled Malawi for about 30 years from 1964 to 1994. Him among other neo-colonial leaders liberated Africa from colonialism.
During his era, Banda established the foundation and bedrock of this nation.
The education system was vibrant, talk of the expansion of University of Malawi and the building of many primary and secondary schools. The transport and communication system was vibrant talk of the road, rail, water, and air transport he initiated (the illalas and Air Malawi were adorable).
The agricultural system was vibrant and ADMARC was a wonderful institution. The Health system was vibrant as he made sure each and every district had a hospital, and each and every region had a referral hospital.
Generally, the economy was robust and reflected well on the global economy such that the exchange rate of dollar to Kwacha was 1-1 in the late 1980s. He managed to maintain this status by enforcing his philosophy of “chuma chili mu nthaka”
So, Limbe leaf and Auction floors were key institutions for tobacco farmers. He made sure high quality tea is produced and exported from Mulanje and Thyolo.
His Excellency Dr. Elson Bakili Muluzi
He was the second President and ruled this country for 10 years from 1994 to 2004. He is the father and founder of multiparty, yes! The founder of democracy in Malawi.
During his time he emphasized on liberating Malawians from themselves. He opened the eyes of many Malawians to the bill of rights which is our Constitution. For the first time we realised that we have rights and freedoms.
He was popular for introducing free primary education and introduction of community secondary schools. Although this was highly criticised for diluting the standards of education in the country, it helped to eradicate basic illiteracy.
He changed Mzuzu TTC to Mzuzu University, a public university which created room for more people to attain tertiary education. Mzuzu University has heavily contributed to the country’s development by coming up with well qualified personnel’s while on the other hand employing a lot of people.
Small scale businesses boomed and for the first time we saw vendors plying trade in the streets. Because of his philosophy “ndalama zizikhala mmanja mwa anthu” people began to shun farming and moved to urban centers. The dawn of urbanisation.
He also embarked on privatisation where he sold a lot of government institutions. Now this made many people to lose their jobs. Unemployment levels grew unexpectedly.
He is hailed for introducing freedom of expression which extended to freedom of media. We saw the coming in of Television Malawi and a number of private radio stations.
His Excellency Ngwazi Prof. Bingu Wa Muntharika
The third president of Malawi, he ruled this country for 7 years from 2004 to 2012. He was given the title Ngwazi for his sound and proactive leadership style which Malawians reckon was similar to that of the first president.
He re-energised and rejuvenated most public institutions. The economy of the country stabilised and the inflation rate was admirably controlled.
Infrastructure development was at the heart of his development agenda. He built Malawi College of Science and Technology (MUST), Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), New Parliament Buildings, and Bingu National Stadium among other things. These have transformed and added value to the impression of our country.
In agriculture, he made a bold move and abolished the starter packs and introduced subsidy farm inputs. Malawi had bumper and surplus harvests.
Many Malawians believe that Bingu was a visionary leader and he loved this country. His untimely and unexpected death lobbed us a true statesman who could have transformed this nation.
Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda
The fourth president of Malawi ruled this nation for 2 years from 2012 to 2014. So far she was the first female president to rule this country.
Joyce Banda was, generally, driven by the humanitarian aspect in her development agenda. She was driven to alleviate the very poor of the society.
She was much concerned with the underprivileged women in the country. She was convinced that if a woman is independent then the country will be on the right track to development.
In so doing she emphasized the need for especially women to engage in small scale businesses. She championed a number of initiatives that aimed at giving loans to women.
She was also concerned about the health of expectant women due to the alarming rate of maternal deaths. As such in many health centres she built waiting shelters for our beloved pregnant women.
As a humanitarian she saw no use for the presidency to have a presidential jet. She controversially sold the presidential jet and it was alleged that she used the proceeds for purchase maize for the citizenry.
His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Muntharika
The fifth president of the Republic of Malawi ruled for 6 years from 2014 to 2020. He is a brother to late president Ngwazi Prof. Bingu wa Muntharika.
His development agenda was somehow not definitive in my view. Notably, he has made a number of infrastructural developments especially road networks.
Prof. Arthur Peter Muntharika is hailed for initiating overhaul road construction for Mzuzu-Nkhata-Bay road, one of the finest roads constructed in the country. He also constructed the Mangochi road a very important road in the eastern region of the country.
Another commendable road projects was that of constructing township roads. However, the roads that were constructed like in Chilobwe in Blantyre or Area 23 in Lilongwe, just to name a few locations, were substandard. They wore out even before he left office.
In the education system we appreciate the introduction of community colleges in the districts. This is a great move towards developing this nation provided there are proper guidelines and policies to ensure the sustainability of such an initiative.
He initiated the renovation of Kamuzu International Airport but to the dismay of many Malawians is not comparable to what Kamuzu Banda could have constructed even in his times. Failure to construct the much talked Mombera University also dents his legacy.
His Excellency Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera
The sixth and current president of Malawi started ruling 2 months ago.
Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera note that Malawians entrusted Tonse alliance with expectations that it will deliver. Here’s to hope that he will build from the strengths of those who have gone in the same office before him and also learn from their weaknesses.
The slate is as clean as a pearl, but will it shine as bright like a diamond after his tenure in the office? Akometsi will live to tell it all!