Malawi President Missing, Searches Are Being Done For Him

Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, has announced an extensive search operation in the mountainous forests near Mzuzu, a city in northern Malawi, following the disappearance of a military plane. The aircraft was carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima, former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, and eight others. The incident has gripped the nation and prompted a large-scale search and rescue mission.

Plane Disappearance

The military plane took off from Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 a.m. on Monday. It was expected to land at Mzuzu International Airport, approximately 370 kilometers (230 miles) north, after a 45-minute flight. However, due to bad weather and poor visibility, air traffic control advised the plane to turn around. Shortly afterward, the aircraft disappeared from radar, and contact was lost.

Presidential Address

President Chakwera addressed the nation in a live broadcast on the state TV channel MBC, expressing his deep concern and commitment to finding the missing plane. “I know this is a heartbreaking situation. I know we are all frightened and concerned. I too am concerned,” Chakwera said. He assured the public that every available resource was being used to locate the aircraft and that the search would continue through the night.

Focused Search Efforts

The search is focused on a 10-kilometer (6-mile) radius in one of the pine tree plantations within the Viphya mountain range, as indicated by the last known position of the plane tracked using telecommunications towers. The Malawi Defense Force is leading the search and rescue operation, with assistance from international partners including the U.S., the U.K., Norway, and Israel, who have provided specialized technologies to aid in the search.

Key Passengers

Among the passengers were Vice President Saulos Chilima, former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, and three military crew members. The group was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister. President Chakwera highlighted the gravity of the situation and urged Malawians to pray for those onboard and their families. “I am holding onto every fiber of hope that we will find survivors,” he said.

Vice President’s Background

Saulos Chilima has been serving as Malawi’s vice president since 2020. He was a candidate in the 2019 presidential election, finishing third. The election was initially won by incumbent Peter Mutharika but was annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court due to irregularities. Chilima then joined forces with Lazarus Chakwera, running as his vice-presidential candidate in the historic 2020 election rerun, which saw Chakwera elected president. This election marked the first time in Africa that a court-overturned election result led to the defeat of a sitting president.

Recent Controversy

Chilima recently faced corruption charges related to allegations that he received money in exchange for influencing the awarding of government contracts. However, these charges were dropped last month, leading to criticism that President Chakwera’s administration was not taking a firm enough stance against corruption. The decision to drop the charges has sparked debate and scrutiny regarding the government’s commitment to tackling graft.

International Assistance

The international community has responded swiftly to Malawi’s call for assistance in the search operation. The U.S., U.K., Norway, and Israel have all offered help, providing advanced technologies to aid in locating the missing aircraft. President Chakwera expressed his gratitude for this support, hopeful that it would expedite the search efforts and increase the chances of finding survivors.

Challenging Terrain

As the search operation continues, the nation remains on edge, hoping for positive news. The challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions have made the search effort complex and demanding. However, the determination of the Malawi Defense Force and the international support provide a beacon of hope.

Ongoing Commitment

President Chakwera has assured the nation that the search will persist until the plane is found. The commitment to leaving no stone unturned in the quest to locate the missing aircraft and its passengers underscores the gravity of the situation and the resolve to bring closure to this distressing event.

National Anxiety

The disappearance of the military plane carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima and former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri has plunged Malawi into a state of anxiety and hope. The relentless search efforts by the Malawi Defense Force, supported by international allies, reflect a collective determination to find the missing plane and its passengers. As the nation waits for updates, the thoughts and prayers of many are with those affected by this tragic incident.


The extensive search operation for the missing Malawian military plane highlights the urgent and determined efforts to locate Vice President Saulos Chilima, former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, and the other passengers. President Chakwera’s commitment to using every available resource, coupled with international assistance, underscores the gravity of the situation. As Malawi continues to hope for positive news, the nation stands united in support of the search and rescue efforts.

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