Former vice president Justin Chimera Malewezi has died at the age of 78.
The Chewa Heritage Foundation and Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda have confirmed of the death.
However, it is not known if he was sick and the ailment that has killed him. Malewezi had a near brush with death a couple of years into his-vice presidency. He had to have an expensive kidney transplant in Germany
Malewezi was born on December 23, 1943.
The former Malawi’s second in command also served as a member of Parliament for Ntchisi North Constituency.
He was vice president of Malawi for two consecutive terms from 1994 to 2004 under the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Having been sidelined by UDF as the party’s presidential candidate, Malewezi decided to quit the party on Jan. 1 2004 and joined forces with the opposition People’s ProgressiveMovement where he was elected vice president.
Malewezi left UDF in 2004 and prior to the election he joined People’s Progressive Movement (PPM).
There he hoped to be elected the front runner for the Mgwirizano (Unity) Coalition of seven opposition parties. After failing to be a torchbearer for the Mgwirizano Coalition which was led by Gwanda Chakuamba, with a never-say-die spirit, Malewezi decided to go it alone and run as an independent presidential candidate in 2004.
Born Justin Chimera Malewezi, his lifelong career as a public servant was cut out for him. His father was a school teacher and young Malewezi was determined to get a good education.
He got his Cambridge School Certificate at Robert Blake Secondary School, popularly known as Kongwe in the Central region district of Dowa, before graduating with his first degree at Columbia University in the United States in 1967.
He started his public service life as a science teacher, a profession that saw him rise to become headmaster and chief education officer in 1976.
From then the sky was the limit for the boy from Visanza as Ntchisi is sometimes known (a derogatory name meaning rugs). He rose to become permanent secretary in various ministries, including education and health, before holding the sensitive post of secretary to the treasury, the chief government technical advisor on money matters.
In 1989 he was appointed secretary to the president and cabinet(SPC), virtually becoming former “Life President” Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s eyes and ears.
That was where his first descent from grace began.
Banda publicly and summarily dismissed his SPC, with the famous editorial writers at the state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) having a fieldday categorizing how ungrateful Malewezi was to undermine his mighty boss.
But, unlike several other Malawians who dared to step on Banda’s seemingly soft toes, Malewezi was lucky to escape arrest or worse.
Out of government he committed his time to private consultancy advising governments of Tanzania, Ghana and Lesotho on education and public sector development.
That kept him going until the wind of change started sweeping across central and southern Africa from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.
Malewezi around 1992 joined a clandestine underground group of mainly former Banda protestors including Elson Bakili Muluzi, Aleke Banda and Edward Bwanali and journalist Brown Mpinganjira.
The underground pressure group later became the UDF under the tutelage of Bakili Muluzi, and dislodged Banda’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) from its 30-year stranglehold on power in Malawi’s first multiparty elections in 1994.
And the technocrat-turned-politician Malewezi became President Muluzi’s deputy from his first term until end of his second term.
Malewezi compiled a collection of essays under the working title “Confessions of a Principal Secretary” where he chronicles his life as a civil servant under the Banda regime.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :