Malawi Vice-President Dies in a Plane Crash

Wife of Vice President Saulos Chilima, Mary Chilima, center, is comforted by Malawi First Lady Monica Chakwera, left, at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, June 11, 2024, as they await the body of the vice president and nine others killed in a plane crash.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said he received the sad news from the head of the armed force that Vice President Saulos Chilima and everyone traveling with him on a plane that had gone missing have died. In a televised speech, the president said the plane crashed in a dense forest in northern Malawi.

The plane carrying Chilima and nine others crashed on its way back to Lilongwe after it failed to land at an airport in northern Malawi because of bad weather. Chakwera said the death may cause anger and pain, which he said he well understands. Chakwera said he feels the same way because he had used the same aircraft on some trips.

“An aircraft that others used just the day before. And aircraft that the crew had just operated successfully just hours before. And yet despite the track record of the aircraft and the experience of the crew, something terrible went wrong with that aircraft on its flight back to Lilongwe, sending it crashing down and killing everyone on board,” he said.

Chakwera hailed the 51-year-old Chilima as an excellent vice president and counselor over the past four years of his presidency. “All of us as a nation that found his leadership and courage a source of inspiration, and I know others who were on that flight were men and women of honor who served their country with distinction and whose families are left with broken hearts today,” he said.

Former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former President Bakili Muluzi, was among those killed. Dzimbiri was a member of Chilima’s United Transform Movement party. Chakwera has said that he will detail funeral arrangements for all 10 people killed in the crash later.

Chilima’s death comes at a time when the relationship between the president and his vice president was starting to normalize. as the two were seen together during public functions. Last month, the government dropped corruption charges against Chilima over accusations that he received kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for government contracts.