Veteran politician Gwanda Chakuamba has died, Malawi24 has learnt.
Last week, we reported that Chakuamba had gone ill at the Blantyre Adventist Hospital for stomach pains.
He has died at the same hospital.
He had been nursing heart problems before.
Since his jovial and vocal political career dating way to the middle 1980s , Chakuamba has been a bonafide and controversial member of ‘big’ political parties like the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) , United Democratic Front (UDF) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and was recently affiliated to former governing Peoples Party (PP) prior to the May 20 Tripartite elections.
He was born on 4 April 1934.
During the rule of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, he held many cabinet positions and was Commander of the MCP youth group Malawi Young Pioneers. Known for his temperamental nature, Chakuamba was a fearless opponent of John Tembo. One account has it Tembo and Chakuamba squared up for a fist fight at Nasawa MYP Training Base where Dr. Banda was within minutes of arriving to inaugurate the 1976 Youth Week Rally. In February 1980, Chakuamba was ‘charged’, on the behest of Tembo and Kadzamira, with sedition and given a 22-year prison sentence.
Chakuamba was released from jail in July 1993, a month after voters endorsed a return to multiparty politics in a referendum. On his release, he joined the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) but soon returned to the MCP and became secretary-general of the party. In February 1994, the MCP announced that Banda was to be the party’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming general election; Chakuamba was the vice-presidential candidate.
In Malawi’s first multiparty elections, held on 17 May 1994, Bakili Muluzi and his UDF party defeated Banda and the MCP. Banda retired from politics in August 1994 and Chakuamba succeeded to the party leadership.
In February 1999, an electoral alliance between the MCP and the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) was announced in preparation for upcoming elections that would take place in May. Gwanda Chakuamba was chosen as the coalition’s presidential candidate while AFORD leader Chakufwa Chihana was selected as the vice-presidential candidate.
The move created serious divisions within the MCP because Chakuamba didn’t select his political rival and fellow party member John Tembo to be his running mate. Thousands of Tembo’s supporters were reported to have mounted protests to demand Chakuamba’s resignation.