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Malawi confirms Vice President Chilima dead in plane crash. What we know so far


Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has announced the death of his Vice President, Saulos Klaus Chilima, former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri and eight others.

Chakwera made the announcement after the Malawi Defence Force discovered the wreckage of the plane in Chikangawa Forest that was carrying Chilima, Dzimbiri and eight others with no survivors on Tuesday, 11, 2024.

During the national address on Tuesday in Lilongwe, the Malwian President said the search and rescue team found the aircraft near a hill in the Chikangawa forest, and found it completely destroyed, with no survivors.

He described the odeal as heartbreaking and eulogised Chilima as a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction, and a formidable Vice President.

“The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander has informed me that the search and rescue operation I ordered to find the missing plane that carried our Vice President and nine others has been completed and the plane has been found,” Chakwera announced.

He stated that the MDF was already in the process of bringing the remains to the capital, and later today his office would announce the arrangements that have been made for laying the late Vice President and the others to rest in a dignified manner.

Additionally, Chakwera thanked all former Presidents of Malawi for the solidarity they expressed when the news broke out on the disappearance of the plane.

“Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is, and I can only imagine how much pain and anguish you all must be feeling at this time, as well as how much pain and anguish you all will be feeling in the coming days and weeks as we mourn this terrible loss,” he said.

Chakwera stated he felt helpless because the people who perished in this tragic and terrible accident could have been anyone.

He further said the aircraft involved in the accident was one he himself had used on similar trips, others had used just the day before, and an aircraft that the crew had operated successfully just hours before.

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Here are a few things to know about the late Malawian Vice President:

Was born February 12, 1973, a Malawian economist and politician who was the incumbent Vice President of the Republic of Malawi.

Assumed office on June, 28, 2020, winning the majority alongside presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera.

He also served as the Minister of Economic Planning and Development, as well as Head of Public Sector Reforms, a position he also previously held under the administration of former President Peter Mutharika.

Before joining politics, Chilima held key leadership positions in various multi-national companies including Unilever, Coca-Cola and Airtel Malawi, where he rose to become Chief Executive Officer.

From 2013 to 2014, he was also a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of African branch of Edwin Symonowicz Foundation, an international network of businesses owned by Polish businessman and geographer Edwin Symonowicz.

In February 2014, Chilima was announced as the running mate of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Peter Mutharika for the May 2014 presidential election.

Chilima later left the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to form the United Transformation Movement (UTM), and contested in the nullified 2019 general election.

He is the first child of Henderson Brown Chilima of Ching’anga Village, T/A Njewa, Lilongwe and Elizabeth Frances Chilima of Mbilintengerenji Village, T/A Champiti, Ntcheu.

Chilima spent most of his early life in Blantyre where his parents were working and, like most children during his time, spent his long school holidays with his paternal and maternal grandparents in the villages of Lilongwe and Ntcheu, respectively.

He did his primary school at HHI and Dharap primary schools, and his secondary education at the Marist Brothers Mtendere Secondary School Thiwi in the Dedza District.

Chilima went on to the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, where he graduated with a degree in social sciences in 1994. After working for a few years, he returned to his alma mater to pursue a master’s degree in Knowledge Management, graduating in 2006.

On August, 10, 2015, Chilima received his Ph.D in Knowledge Management from the University of Bolton in the United Kingdom.

A marketer by profession, Chilima started his work career at Lever Brothers (Mw) Limited (now Unilever) before moving on to the Leasing and Finance Company of Malawi, and later Southern Bottlers Limited (now Castel Malawi).

His last professional assignment was at Airtel Malawi where he was hired to lead its sales team before being named the first-ever local Managing Director for the company in 2010.

Chilima’s most notable professional career successes include spearheading the strategic and breakthrough projects at Airtel, namely Project Precision, Yabooka, Airtel Money, and a 3G network upgrade, which resulted in significant impacts on the business revenue and employee engagement, growing Airtel Malawi’s annual revenue by 75 percent over a period of three years from US$54m in 2010 to US$95m in 2013.

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