Chakwera announces the death of Malawi’s veep Chilima and nine others: Here is the full speech

A visibly teary and shaking Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has, exactly at 12:48 hours (CAT), announced the passing of the country’s Vice President Right Honourable Saulos Klaus Chilima and nine others in a plane crash deep in the hills of Chikangawa Forest in Mzimba District. 

Here is the full announcement speech.

Fellow Malawians

The Malawi Defence Force 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. And I am deeply saddened and sorry to inform you all that it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy. The search and rescue team has found the aircraft near a hill in the Chikangawa forest, and they found it completely destroyed, with no survivors, as all passengers on board were killed on impact.


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. I also know that going through a terrible loss like this makes us feel helpless and lost, as death has a way of reminding us that we do not have control over so many things that affect our lives and those we love. We feel helpless because we know that the people who perished in this tragic and terrible accident could have been any one of us, and we feel helpless because a day like today reminds us that one day and any day death will in fact come for each one of us and we will be powerless to stop it.


That aircraft is an aircraft I myself has used on similar trips, an aircraft that others had used just the day before, and an aircraft that the crew had 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 and leaving us all devastated and asking ourselves questions whose answers cannot take away the pain and helplessness we feel from this loss. I know that it is natural for the pain and helplessness this tragedy causes to make us feel angry because we feel hurt and wounded, and I want you to know that I understand these feelings because I feel them too. So because we are all feeling these things, it is important that we comfort each other now and in the weeks to come as we mourn together.


Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima was a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction, and a formidable Vice President. I consider it one of the greatest honours of my life to have had him as my deputy and counsellor for the past four years, and his passing is a terrible loss to his wife Mary, his family, his friends, his colleagues in Cabinet, and to all of us as a nation that found his leadership and courage a source of inspiration. And I know that even the others who were on that flight were men and women of honour who served their country with distinction and whose families are left with broken hearts today. I am profoundly sorry to all of you for this terrible loss, and I pray for God to comfort us all and bind up our wounds as we mourn together as one nation under one flag.


I want to thank Commander Phiri and his MDF team for working through the night under difficult weather conditions to find the remains of our loved ones. The MDF is already in the process of bringing the remains to the Capital, and later today my office will announce the arrangement that have been made for laying our beloved Vice President and the others to rest in a dignified manner worthy of the cherished place they had in our lives and in our nation. I must also thank all former Presidents of Malawi for the solidarity they expressed to me when I called each of them to inform them of the terrible news, because it is in times like this that we must stand together as one people and I will be counting on their support to unite us during the days of mourning that lie ahead.


But more than anything, I am deeply sorry to all of you for this terrible loss, and I humbly ask you all to observe with me a minute of silence in honour of their memory.


May their souls rest in peace.



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