At the end of the Cold War, Africa was looked on, by western countries, in a completely different way. Foreign aid was no longer awarded based on “friendly” countries (mainly distinguished by those who opposed communism) but rather by good governance. After over 30 years under Banda’s control, the people of Malawi were ready for a change. The Catholic Church was the first to move on this by issuing a pastoral letter in 1992 demanding change. Protests and marches followed, but Banda didn’t move from office until donor countries cut off their funding. In 1992 the people of Malawi were asked what kind of government they wanted—a multi-party system or to continue with Banda’s government. The multiparty system won with 80% of the voters choosing plural politics.
Banda accepted the election results, and constitutional reforms were accordingly put in place. On May 17th 1994, a general election between three parties was held. Businessman Bakili Maluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party became president.
The emerging parties were the United Democratic Front (UDF) with Bakili Muluzi at the head, and the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) led by Chakufwa Chihana.
Banda was actually brought to trial in 1995, accused of ordering the murder of three government ministers during his rule. The trial ended with his acquittal, but Banda publicly apologized for any suffering he “may have caused.”
Democracy has now been in Malawi for almost ten years. Maluzi’s government closed Banda’s vast political prisons, rewrote the constitution to include freedom of speech and press, and created a national free primary school system. But like many young democratic nations, Malawi still has a long way to go. The economic, political, social and environmental conditions of Malawi are far from acceptable for any culture.
In the May 1999 presidential and parliamentary elections, president Muluzi was re-elected and his party won the majority of seats in Parliament. The opposition parties accused UDF (Maluzi’s political party) of having manipulated the electoral process and forging the results. Local elections were held in the country for the first time in November 2000, and UDF won 70 percent of the wards, although with very low voter turnout. In 2000 Muluzi sacked his entire cabinet after high-ranking officials were accused of corruption, in a move aimed at placating foreign donors. However, his new government included many of the same people.
President Muluzi considered running for a third term, which is forbidden by the Constitution. To that end, he brought a bill before Parliament so that he could stand indefinitely. However, in July 2002, Parliament rejected by 3 votes this amendment.
President Muluzi suffered a bitter setback, but the integrity of the constitution was maintained.