Malawi Government and Politics

Under the 1995 Constitution, Malawi is a republic. The supreme executive authority is added to the president, who is elected in the general election for five years. Whether the president is unable to complete his term takes over the country’s vice president, as happened in April 2012 after the death of President wa Mutharika. Legislative authority has been added to a national assembly with 193 members elected in the general election. The assembly is elected for five years, but the president has the right to dissolve. The last presidential election was held in May 2009, at the same time as elections to the National Assembly, and the next election is scheduled to be held in May 2014.

Malawi Country Flag

Administrative division

Administratively, Malawi is divided into three regions: the northern, the central and the southern. The regions are further divided into 28 districts. The local units are mostly led by representatives appointed/approved by the central authorities. The last local elections were held in the autumn of 2000, and after the Constitution, local elections were held every five years. However, the planned elections in 2005 and 2010 were canceled, and the constitution has now been changed to allow the country’s president to decide if/when such elections will be held.


The courts include a Supreme Court of Appeal, a High Court and, as a first instance court, magistrate courts. The Supreme Court is the last instance in both civil and criminal cases.

History and Politics

First people

One of the oldest people in the world probably lived in Malawi. How do we know? We learned this from finds such as that of the German palaeoanthropologist Friedemann Schrenk, who found a lower jaw in 1991. And this pine is said to be 2.5 million years old. It belongs to the genus Homo rudolfensis, of which remains have also been found in Kenya. Scientists believe that he is one of the oldest representatives of the homo genus, modern humans, and that he was already using tools.

Therefore we can assume that this region was gladly colonized by people, even after the Stone Age. People lived there for a long time before the Bantu tribes immigrated to what is now Malawi. They were probably the ancestors of today’s Bushmen. They fished in Lake Malawi, grew fruit and vegetables and also knew about iron.

From the Kingdom of Maravi to the British Protectorate

The Kingdom of Maravi was established in the 14th century. It lay in the south of what is now the state of Malawi and extended far beyond it.

In the middle of the 17th century, slave traders from Portugal, but also Arabs, came to the region to fetch slaves from there. Many people fell victim to these slave traders.

David Livingstone was probably the first European to set foot on Malawi’s soil. In any case, he probably discovered Lake Malawi in 1859. Missionaries came to convert the local people to Christianity, and then a trading company called the Livingston Central African Mission Company was established.

In 1891 the area of ​​Malawi became a British protectorate and in 1907 the country was renamed Nyassaland, which means “land by the lake”.

Struggle for freedom and independence

The British suppressed the indigenous black population, leading to protests and riots, which the British crushed. From 1944, however, there was a representation of the interests of the locals who campaigned for rights and freedom. This was called the Nyassaland African Congress (NAC).

But first there was a merger of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Malawi to form the “Central African Federation”. Today the other two countries are called Zambia and Zimbabwe. A man named Hastings Kamuzu Banda played a leading role in the struggle for freedom. He campaigned for an independent state that was independent of the British. The NAC freedom movement has now become a party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which Hastings Kamuzu Banda has just assumed leadership.

Independent Malawi

But it was not until 1964 that Malawi became independent and from 1966 a presidential republic under the leadership of Hastings Kamuzu Banda. But he did not rule democratically, but like a dictator. He opposed the apartheid movement in South Africa and was close to the West. His neighboring states, most of which were fighting apartheid, therefore valued him little.

In 1971 he had set himself up as president for life and suppressed all opposition in the country. There was only one party left. The press was not allowed to write critically, and police officers arrested people and put them in jails. It was more than 20 years before Hastings Kamuzu Banda allowed multiple parties and paved the way for a new constitution.

In 1995 Malawi finally became a democracy. Bakili Muluzi became president. Peter Mutharika was President from 2014 to June 2020. Lazarus Chakwera took over the office of President of Malawi on June 28, 2020.

Malawi Head of Government

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