Peter Mutharika

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Peter Mutharika
Arthur Peter Mutharika 2014 (cropped).jpg
Peter Mutharika in 2014
President of Malawi
In office
31 May 2014 – 28 June 2020
Vice PresidentSaulos Chilima
Everton Chimulirenji
Preceded byJoyce Banda
Succeeded byLazarus Chakwera
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
8 September 2011 – 26 April 2012
PresidentBingu wa Mutharika
Preceded byEtta Banda
Succeeded byEphraim Chiume
Minister of Education, Science and Technology
In office
9 August 2010 – 8 September 2011
PresidentBingu wa Mutharika
Preceded byGeorge Chaponda
Succeeded byGeorge Chaponda
Minister of Justice
In office
15 June 2009 – 9 August 2010
PresidentBingu wa Mutharika
Preceded byHenry Dama Phoya
Succeeded byGeorge Chaponda
Member of Parliament
for Thyolo East
In office
19 May 2009 – March 2014
Preceded byBapu Khamisa
Succeeded byGerson Timothy Solomoni
Advisor to The President on Foreign and Domestic Policy
In office
Personal details
Born (1940-07-18) 18 July 1940 (age 81)
Chisoka, Thyolo, Malawi
Political partyDPP (2004–present)
UDF (before 2004)
Spouse(s)Christophine (d. 1991)
(m. 2014)
  • Moyenda
  • Nicolplix
  • Charlotte
RelativesBingu wa Mutharika (brother)
Alma materUniversity of London (LL.B)
Yale University (LL.M, J.S.D.)
AwardsInternational Jurist Award

Arthur Peter Mutharika (born 18 July 1940)[1][2][3] is a Malawian politician and lawyer who was President of Malawi from May 2014 to June 2020.[4] Mutharika has worked in the field of international justice, specialising in international economic law, international law and comparative constitutional law.[5] He informally served as an adviser to his older brother, President Bingu wa Mutharika, on issues of foreign and domestic policy from the onset of his election campaign until the President's death on 5 April 2012.[6]

He has also held positions as Minister of Justice and later as Minister for Education, Science and Technology.[6] Mutharika also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2012. He was charged to help bridge relations between Malawi and the United Kingdom due to the deterioration of public diplomacy between the two nations after the Cochrane-Dyet controversy.[7] Standing as the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Peter Mutharika was elected as President of Malawi in the 2014 election.[8]


Early career[edit]

Mutharika received his LL.B. law degree from the University of London in 1965.[9] He then received his LL.M. and J.S.D. degrees from Yale University[10] in 1966 and 1969 respectively.[10] Mutharika has been admitted to the bar in Tanzania as a professional lawyer since 1971.[9] As a professor, he has taught at University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Haile Selassie University (Ethiopia), Rutgers University (USA), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research Program for Foreign Service Officers from Africa and Asia at Makerere University (Uganda), and for 37 years[11] at Washington University (USA), and has served as an Academic Visitor at the London School of Economics (UK).[5] He also served as advisor to the American Bar Association's Rule of Law initiative for Africa.[6]

Late career[edit]

He assisted as an advisor in the campaign for his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, for re-election as President in 2009.[6] In 1995 he argued for limiting presidential powers in Malawi.[6] He then entered Malawian politics where he became a Minister in a cabinet he helped to create.[6] He also continued to serve as an adviser to the President until the President's death in 2012 in issues of foreign and domestic policy.[6]

ICSID Arbitration Tribunal[edit]

Mutharika was part of a three-man tribunal that was arbitrating international cases. In August 2011, Mutharika decided to resign from two international court cases with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes that he was arbitrating on Zimbabwe where foreign investors sued the Zimbabwean government for breaches of bilateral investment treaties.[12] This was due to concerns about his impartiality because of Bingu Mutharika's close associations with the Mugabe government.[12]

Political life[edit]

Mutharika with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd

He is the President of DPP in Malawi. In May 2009, he was elected to the Malawian Parliament, and he was subsequently appointed by his brother Bingu wa Mutharika to the Malawi Cabinet as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. He then became Minister of Education, Science and Technology[12] and as of 8 September 2011 he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new "war cabinet".[7]

DPP Factions[edit]

In 2010, tensions rose over claims that President Bingu wa Mutharika's planned to name Peter Mutharika, his brother, as the party successor over the sitting vice-president, Joyce Banda.[13] The Vice-President was later fired from the DPP and launched her own party, the People's Party (PP). Some people in DPP resigned over the dismissal of the Vice-President. In line with Malawi's laws, Joyce Banda still remained the country's Vice-President although she was fired from the DPP.[13]

DPP Presidential Endorsement[edit]

In August 2011, the DPP National Governing Council (NGC) endorsed Peter Mutharika as presidential candidate for the 2014 elections.[14] This announcement came a few days after the 20 July 2011 protests where nationwide strikes were held against Bingu Mutharika's regime.[8] His appointment was endorsed by the DPP NGC since the party did not hold a convention to elect new leaders.[8] The Secretary General, Wakuda Kamanga stated that the decision was made in spite of the protests because the party believed that the "anger would fade".[8] This endorsement also led to the firing of those that were against the nomination process within the party including first vice-president Joyce Banda and second vice-president Khumbo Kachali.

US citizenship controversy[edit]

Peter Mutharika's candidacy for position as a government minister and his eligibility for presidency had been controversial because of speculation and doubt over his Malawian citizenship. A senior Political and Administrative lecturer at the University of Malawi, Mustapha Hussein has stated that his "eligibility should be viewed in the context of his being Malawian, he would be above 35 years of age by 2014, and he has not been convicted of any criminal activities for the past seven years.".[15] Malawi's laws however, do not allow dual citizenship and it was wrongly speculated that he obtained US citizenship whilst living in the US and hence, had renounced his Malawian citizenship as is required by law. Nonetheless, the US embassy in Lilongwe confirmed that he is not a citizen but a Green card holder.[16] The ruling DPP has stated that Mutharika is a Malawian citizen and would run for president as a Malawian citizen and not an American one. There was controversy that, as the holder of a US Greencard, he owes an allegiance to the United States. Therefore, people on the street are of the view that a nation cannot be run by someone who will be spending the minimum of three months in the US annually required to retain permanent resident status.[17] In February 2014, he relinquished his green card and permanent resident status.[18]

2014 election[edit]

Peter Mutharika was elected as President in the 2014 election. He was sworn in as President on 31 May 2014.[19] Naming his cabinet in June 2014, Mutharika took charge of the defense portfolio himself. He appointed the veteran economist Goodall Gondwe as Minister of Finance and appointed one of the defeated presidential candidates, Atupele Muluzi, as Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.[20]

As of June 2014, he supported diversification of Malawi's agriculture into other crops besides tobacco.[21]

His first term was marked by strong popular discontent, due to corruption, food shortages and power cuts. In 2018, thousands of people took to the streets in several cities across the country to denounce corruption scandals.[22] Mutharika was accused of the involvement in a bribery case, suspected of having received more than $200,000 from a businessman who had obtained a multi-million dollar contract with the police.[23] Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) cleared Muthatika on the Malawi Police Service food rations contract allegations. The ACB stated that investigations into the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations contract have revealed that President Peter Mutharika did not personally benefit from $200,000 deposited in the Democratic Progressive Party's bank account.[24]

2019 election[edit]

On 21 May 2019, Malawi held elections to elect a new president, members of parliament, and local government councillors. Peter Mutharika was nominated and endorsed as the presidential candidate of the DPP. His main challenger was Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Saulos Chilima, who had been Mutharika's vice president since 2014, also put up a strong challenge against Mutharika since the two parted ways in April 2018. The election was marred with controversy and claims of rigging by Mutharika's DPP. In some districts such as Nsanje and Chikwawa in the southern end of Malawi, the Malawi Electoral Commission staff managing the polls were accused of swapping the presidential results for Chakwera to be for Mutharika. A district polling staff for Nsanje, Fred Thomas, was arrested for being found tampering with results sheets of the election.[25] Similar issues of vote rigging and threatening of opposition political party monitors by the DPP were reported in other districts such as Zomba, Thyolo, Mulanje, Lilongwe and Nkhotakota. A lot of results sheets were also affected by tampering by "tippexing". Political thugs, thought to be from the DPP, got hold of results and changed figures by 'erasing' original figures by applying tippex (a brand of correction fluid). This led to the election to be known as "the Tippex Election", and the subsequent election of Mutharika as "the Tippex President". On 27 May 2019 and despite all the irregularities, the Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Supreme Court judge Justice Jane Ansah, announced Mutharika as the winner of the controversial elections with 1,940,709 votes against 1,781,740 for closest challenger Dr Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP. Saulos Chilima, who represented the UTM polled 1,018,369 votes. Mutharika was subsequently sworn in on 28 May 2019 for a new five-year term. The opposition MCP and UTM have then further applied to the High Court of Malawi to nullify the election results and conduct another election. Meanwhile, supporters of the opposition continued conducting demonstrations ever since against the conduct of the elections.[26]

On 3 February 2020, the Constitutional Court judges arrived in Lilongwe court to give a long-awaited ruling on that disputed presidential election, travelling in a military vehicle under heavy police escort. The judges took turns to read the 500-page decision over more than seven hours.[27] The Malawi Constitutional Court ruled to nullify the 21 May 2019 election, citing irregularities by the Malawi Electoral Commission. It further ordered fresh election to be conducted in 150 days. The nullification was unprecedented in Malawi, and only the second instance of such happening in Africa, the other being the Supreme Court of Kenya decision regarding the 2017 Kenyan presidential election.[28]

2020 election[edit]

Mutharika was defeated by Lazarus Chakwera in the 2020 election, having only obtained about 40% of the vote. Chakwera was sworn in as president of Malawi on 28 June 2020.[4]

Anti-corruption investigations[edit]

In August 2020, the Malawi Anti-Corruption Commission froze the bank accounts of Peter and his wife Gertrude, as a part of an anti-corruption investigation into the importation of K5 billion dollars' worth of cement free of taxes, a privilege for incumbent presidents in Malawi.[29] In January 2021, the High Court dismissed Mutharika's application to lift the freeze on his accounts.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Mutharika meeting Henry Bellingham of the British Foreign Office

Mutharika has two daughters and a son from his first marriage. His first wife, Christophine, died while the children were young. She was a Catholic from the Caribbean.[31][32]

Mutharika remained a widower for more than thirty years, but on 21 June 2014, he married Gertrude Maseko, a member of the Malawi Parliament.[33]

Mutharika is a member of the Presbyterian Church.[34] He is the younger brother of Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi's third president.

Selected works[edit]

  • Foreign Investment Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Emerging Policy and Legal Frameworks (book)
  • "Accountability for Political Abuses in Pre-Democratic Malawi: The Primacy of Truth" – Third World Legal Studies, 2003.
  • "Approaches to Restorative Justice in Malawi", 13th Commonwealth Law Conference, Melbourne, Australia, April 2003.
  • "Legal System of Malawi", Legal Systems of the World (2002)
  • "Some Thoughts on Rebuilding African State Capability," Washington University Law Quarterly (1998)
  • "Creating an Attractive Investment Climate in the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Region," Foreign Investment Law Journal (1997)
  • "The Role of the United Nations Security Council in African Peace Management: Some Proposals," Michigan Journal of International Law (1996)
  • "The 1995 Democratic Constitution of Malawi," Journal of African Law (1996)
  • "The Role of International Law in the Twenty-First Century: An African Perspective," Fordham International Law Journal (1995) and reprinted in Commonwealth Law Bulletin (1995).
  • "The Regulation of Statelessness Under International and National Law," Oceana Publications (1986)
  • "The Alien Under American Law," Oceana Publications (1988)
  • "The International Law of Development," Oceana Publications (1995)
  • "The Work of Council International Co-operation Of Humanity," African Magazine (2003)


He is a recipient of the following awards;

International positions held[edit]

  • President, International Third-World Legal Studies Association, 1986-1993
  • Global Fund Replenishment Champion, 2018-2019
  • Member, Committee of Ten African Heads of State Championing the Advancement of Education, Science and Technology, appointed by the African Union 2018
  • Champion, Global Partnership for Education
  • African Development Bank, Youth Champion
  • Co-convenor, Global Commission on Financing Education
  • Champion, Trade Related Aspects of Property Rights (TRIPS)
  • UN Women "HeForShe" Champion
  • UNFPA Global Youth Champion
  • Advisor in Council of the Economic and Trade Cooperation of African Youth (ETCAY)
  • Board Chairperson for United Nations Economic and Trade Commission of Africa


  1. ^ "Index Mp-Mz". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  2. ^ " - This website is for sale! - malawiindependentblog Resources and Information". Retrieved 3 April 2020. Cite uses generic title (help)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "Lazarus Chakwera sworn in as Malawi president after historic win". 28 June 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Succession crisis looms in DPP". Nyasa Times. Archived from the original on 9 August 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  8. ^ a b c d "".
  9. ^ a b [2] Archived 29 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b "Washington University in St. Louis | Law School". Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  11. ^ Lussenhop, Jessica (28 March 2013). "A. Peter Mutharika, Former Wash. U. Law Professor, Charged with Treason in Malawi [UPDATE] | Riverfront Times". Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  12. ^ a b c Bhebhe, Vusimusi (8 July 2010). "Mutharika forced to quit Zim land trial". The Zimbabwean. Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Malawi: a monarchy in the making? | Francis Chuma | Comment is free". December 2010.
  14. ^ "DPP fires Secretary General and endorses Peter Mutharika for 2014". 1 August 2011. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012.
  15. ^ [3][dead link]
  16. ^ "Peter Mutharika is not an American citizen: US Embassy". The Nation (Malawi). Archived from the original on 5 June 2014.
  17. ^ [4][dead link]
  18. ^ "DPP's Peter Mutharika dumps US Green Card". The Nation (Malawi). 7 February 2014. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  19. ^ Zawadi Chilunga, "'So help me God': Mutharika sworn in as Malawi President, Chilima VP" Archived 1 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Nyasa Times, 31 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Malawi's president completes cabinet", AFP, 23 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Can Malawi end tobacco addiction?". BBC News. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Malawi : Peter Mutharika, le président anticorruption, pris la main dans le sac". Le 28 May 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2020 – via Le Monde.
  23. ^ "Malawi : Peter Mutharika, le président anticorruption, pris la main dans le sac". Le Le Monde. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  24. ^ Khunga, Suzgo (13 August 2018). "ACB backs APM, Clears chilima – The Nation Online". Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  25. ^ Sangala, Tom (24 May 2019). "Rigging claims mar elections in Nsanje". Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  26. ^ "Malawi post-election protesters clash with ruling party supporters". Xinhua. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Malawi court cancels Peter Mutharika election, orders new vote". The East African. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Malawi court annuls election in boost for African democracy". The Hour. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Gwede, Wanga; Khamula, Owen (23 January 2021). "Malawi: Court Says Mutharika Still Can't Access His Bank Accounts - Ex-Malawi Leader Slapped With Costs". Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  31. ^ Muheya, Green (4 April 2014). "Peter Mutharika touted cultured character as widower for 30-years". Nyasa Times. Archived from the original on 2 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Christophine G. Mutharika International Law Award". Washington University School of Law.
  33. ^ "Mutharika weds partner in colourful ceremony". Independent Online (South Africa). 21 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Mutharika Shuns National Prayers, Opts For Labourers". 1 May 2014. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014.
  35. ^ AAU hosts the 65th Graduation Ceremony - website of the University of Addis Ababa
  36. ^ ddis Ababa University to Honour Malawi President Mutharika With Doctorate Degree - website of the Malawian newspaper Nyasa Times
  37. ^ Top chinese university to honour malawis mutharika with another professorship - website of the Malawian newspaper Nyasa Times
  38. ^ President of Malawi receives honorary degree from Washington University - news website of the Washington University in St. Louis

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Etta Banda
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ephraim Chiume
Preceded by
Joyce Banda
President of Malawi
Succeeded by
Lazarus Chakwera