President Lazarus Chakwera and former president Bakili Muluzi have paid tribute to former vice president Justin Malewezi, 77, who died in Lilongwe on Saturday.
Speaking on behalf of the Malewezi family, Senior Chief Lukwa told The Daily Times that Malewezi died while waiting to fly to South Africa for further medical treatment.
Burial will take place on Saturday, April 24.
Born on December 23 1943, Malewezi served as the country’s vice president from 1994 to 2004 under the Muluzi-led United Democratic Front administration. He also served as Ntchisi North Constituency legislator.
Lukwa said Malewezi developed bowel complications on Friday and was taken to a clinic in Area 18 while waiting to be flown to South Africa for treatment.
“He was waiting for a flight to carry him to South Africa. The flight jetted in the country on Saturday night but, sadly, he died on his way to the airport,” Lukwa said.
Speaking through government spokesperson Gospel Kazako, President Lazarus Chakwera described the former vice president as a man of impeccable character.
“He was very hardworking, diligent and demonstrated that it is very possible to be a civil servant and be honest. He was someone who always set an example for others to follow and we will miss his wisdom and intelligence”.
Muluzi expressed shock and described Malewezi’s death as untimely.
“He was a professional civil servant, dedicated and one whose loyalty could not be questioned when it came to work ethic. We became acquainted when he was secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet and Secretary to the Treasury and his death is a great loss to his family and the entire nation,” Muluzi said.
“Justin was a very dedicated person when it comes to working; he was someone who dedicated his life to the nation. His devotion to Malawi is what all of us are going to remember him for,” he said.
State Vice President Saulos Chilima and wife Mary also joined the nation in sending condolences to the bereaved family.
Malewezi was educated at Robert Blake Secondary School. In 1967, Malewezi joined the Civil Service as a secondary school teacher. He also held posts as permanent secretary in various ministries, including those of Education and Health, before becoming secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet in the Kamuzu Banda administration.
His career in politics started through what was then an underground political pressure group which later became the United Democratic Front under the tutelage of Muluzi.
He is survived by four children and six grandchildren.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.