Muluzi ‘Atcheya’ celebrates 80th birthday today

By Chisomo Phiri

Malawi’s former and the second President to rule Malawi after the first President late Hastings Kamuzu Banda is today celebrating his 80th year of existence on earth.

His son Atupele Muluzi has confirmed his birthday in a facebook post which is receiving hundreds of ‘Happy birthday wishes’ to Atcheya.

Wrote Atupele in his Facebook post ” Happy Birthday Dad!.”

Born on March 17, 1943 in Machinga district Muluzi is a Malawian politician 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, Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

There was no provision for a runoff election in Malawi, so this was enough for him to end Banda’s 33-year rule (dating back to when Malawi was still a British colony).

He was re-elected in June 1999, taking 52.4% of the vote and defeating challenger Gwanda Chakuamba who was the leader of the opposition movement.

In 2002 he proposed an amendment to Malawi’s constitution that would have allowed him to run for a third term, but this was abandoned in the face of demonstrations against him, as well as vigorous opposition from the legislature and courts.

After serving two terms, he therefore handed over power to his successor after the May 2004 election, in which UDF candidate Bingu wa Mutharika (who was handpicked and groomed by Muluzi) was elected to succeed Muluzi as president.

Muluzi came to lead the UDF after leaving the Banda government, and he became an advocate for democracy.

Muluzi’s time as President was marred by controversy and scandal, particularly due to the sale of Malawi’s reserves of maize to other countries shortly before the onset of a drought, which resulted in famine throughout the country.

Despite international pressure, the millions of dollars realized from the sale of Malawi’s food reserves have never been turned over, and it is widely suspected that it wound up in foreign accounts belonging to Muluzi and his supporters.