Remembering Saulos Klaus Chilima: A Tribute to a Tragic Loss

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If you asked me to come up with different scenarios about Saulos Klaus Chilima, his life being claimed by a plane crash in 2024 would not have been one of them. This is a national loss that is so hard to wrap around, and the grief that has engulfed the whole nation is hard to explain.

Malawi is currently a country in mourning. Only the Lord knows how long it will take us to recover.

Late Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima

A brief background on the tragedy of Saulos Klaus Chilima

On the 8th of June 2024, Malawi lost a renowned lawyer, Ralph Kasambara. Kasambara had once served as an Attorney General, an ex-minister of Justice, and a former president of the Malawi Law Society. Hence, his funeral was to be attended by the high-echelon society. Amongst those to attend was the Vice President, Late Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima, who would also attend in place of President Lazarus Chakwera.

President Chakwera was to miss the burial due to his trip to the Bahamas that was scheduled for the 10th of June, the same day that the burial was taking place in Nkhatabay.

On any other day, the vice president would have traveled by vehicle from Lilongwe to Nkhatabay. However, due to the president’s travel plans, changes were made that the VP travel by the Malawi Defence Force’s plane, so that he could be back in Lilongwe by 5pm to see the president off at Kamuzu International Airport.

The plane left KIA at 9:30 am, and was scheduled to land at Mzuzu Airport at 10:02 am. However, due to bad weather, it failed to land. A decision was made to turn back to Lilongwe, however, moments later, it disappeared on the radar.

Later in the afternoon, at 3pm, a search party was sent into the thick forest of Chikangawa to look for the military plane and the second citizen of the country.

Unfortunately, the plane was found today, the 11th of June, with all passengers dead. The plane carried 9 people, including the VP and former first lady, Shanil Dzimbiri who was married to former president Bakili Muluzi.

Remembering an Inspiring Leader

I have so many thoughts about the final moments of the 9 people who were on the plane, especially about how this tragedy was handled, especially since it carried the second important person in the country. However, that is a post for another day, right now, I wanted to share my thoughts on how this man will be remembered.

When Saulos Klaus Chilima joined politics in 2014 by becoming former President Peter Mutharika’s, he was fresh from the private sector. At the time, the attention was high on Mutharika who had just lost a brother, former President Bingu Mutharika, in 2012 and was seeking election himself. Their win was celebrated.

However, by 2018, it was noticeable that Chilima was continuously being sidelined by the President. That same year, he announced his intention to challenge Mutharika at the Democratic People’s Party convention. That was the nail that completely shattered their relationship. The party became divided, some shifting to Chilima’s camp, especially the youth.

He was later ousted from the party, and through the support that he had garnered, founded the United Transformation Movement (UTM) which completely changed the dynamics of the 2019 tripartite elections, and ultimately made a shift in the way politics is conducted in the country.

You can read about the twist here.

How Saulos Klaus Chilima brought a change

Perhaps the best way to explain Chilima is how electrifying he was on the podium. His speeches, laced with many proverbs, that would have even the elders searching for meaning, brought a fire to many. “Business unusual” is the best way to describe how he conducted his campaign.

He spoke in a way that moved one, you would immediately believe in his ideologies. It was unlike before, where campaigns were a snooze-fest coupled with a band. He made you want to listen to each word he said.

That also came with his theatrics, but it would all be worth it.

The most important thing is, he made the youth wake up and start paying attention to politics. He was relatable in the sense. His ideologies were that the youth were to take control, and we saw it from his followers, and even the surrounding team. It was youthful and vibrant.

But most importantly, he taught the youth to fight. This was well experienced when he took charge by contesting the 2019 election, which allowed another presidential election to be conducted in 2020. It seemed impossible at first, but each day, we saw him walk side by side with Chakwera, and after a while, we believed in their fight.

I believe that he had planted a seed in a lot of young people’s minds with his ideas, and we believed in them. Perhaps, that is why we were engulfed in anger when it was said that he had been in bed with Zuneth Sattar, and was implicated in his corruption case.

However, even with that in mind, Saulos Klaus Chilima has died fighting. Because he was still fighting the case.

I will not lie that part of my sadness is not because I feel God has denied me the best campaign season for the 2025 elections. I have shared before that I was looking forward to them, especially how he was going to navigate the situation he was in. It now saddens me that we probably will never see such a charismatic leader like him in our lifetime.

All in all, I feel the deepest sadness for his family, and the families of those that have also been affected by this tragedy. I pray God can comfort them through and through.

2 thoughts on “Remembering Saulos Klaus Chilima: A Tribute to a Tragic Loss

  1. Still surreal to call him “late”. A nightmare for the country. A politician who dared to be different, to think differently, to inspire differently. What a character and a leader. What a mind gone. A huge loss to the country in all honesty.

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