Ex-Pres. Muluzi says ‘bring back Freedom Day’: Satisfied with Malawi’s 20 years of democracy

As Malawians commemorate 20 years of democracy, the country’s first democratic President Bakili Muluzi has said he is satisfied with the progress made so far.

Muluzi, who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004, said interviews monitored on MIJ radio and Zodiak Broadcasting Services that as someone who helped bring democratic change in the country he was also happy to see the current administration upholding democracy.

Malawians used to commemorate June 14 as Freedom Day, the day they voted in a referendum in 1993 to end Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s three decades of dictatorship and eventually went to multi-party democracy polls that made Muluzi, Malawi’s first democratically elected president in 1994.

“As someone who helped to bring the democratic change together with my brother [late] Chakufwa Chihana, I am satisfied with the progress Malawi has made so far,” the former president said on Friday.

Muluzi: Freedom Day should be brought back
Muluzi: Freedom Day should be brought back

Citing institutions such as the Malawi Law Commission, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Malawi Human Rights Commission, Muluzi described the organisations as instrumental in supporting the country’s democracy.

The former president also said he was happy that the Joyce Banda administration had performed well in as far as upholding democracy was concerned.

“We don’t have political prisoners up to date,” noted the self-styled political engineer who founded and led the United Democratic Party (UDF) for over 10 years before retiring from active politics in 2009.

The former ruling party is currently being led by his son, Atupele, who is also one of the hottest contenders for next year’s presidential race.


However, Muluzi expressed concern that despite celebrating 20 years of democracy, majority of Malawians were still sleeping on an empty stomach.

“What’s freedom when you are poor and go to sleep on an empty stomach? It’s meaningless,” bemoaned Muluzi.

He said there was no reason to smile about the 20 years of democracy if Malawians still continue living below the poverty line.

“I feel this is nothing if people continue to live below the poverty line,” noted Muluzi.

“We must all join hands to fight poverty if our democracy is to have a meaning…I feel we could have done much better to reduce poverty for the local man,” Muluzi said at his posh BCA Residence in Blantyre.

Freedom Day

The former Malawi leader then advised President Banda’s administration to bring back Freedom Day for the people of Malawi to commemorate what happened on this day in 1993.

He said it was important for young Malawians who were born after 1993 to learn what the country went through to attain the freedom they are enjoying today.

Malawi attained independence from Britain in 1964 but for the next 30 years, Kamuzu Banda ruled with an iron fist.

After the 1993 referendum, Muluzi won the first democratic presidency in May 1994 and served for two five-year terms before his bid for third term in 2004 was blocked by Malawians.

He wanted to contest in 2009 but was also stopped by constitutional order.

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