On 11 June 2024, authorities in Malawi confirmed the death of Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima and nine others in an aircraft crash in the Chikangawa Forest the previous day. Emergency personnel discovered the wreckage of the Malawi Army Air Wing Dornier 282-202K aircraft on a hillside in the forest almost 24 hours after the search operation was launched. Chilima and the other passengers, including his wife, were traveling from the capital Lilongwe to the northern city of Mzuzu to attend the funeral of the country’s former attorney general when the aircraft disappeared from the radar and lost contact with authorities amid poor visibility conditions due to adverse weather. The aircraft was originally scheduled to land at Mzuzu Airport (FWUU/ZZU) at 1000 local time (0800 UTC) on 10 June. Following the event, President Lazarus Chakwera declared 11 June as a day of national mourning.

Analyst Comment: Poor visibility induced by inclement weather prevented the aircraft from landing at Mzuzu Airport and is likely a contributing factor for the crash. Chilima was seen as a potential candidate in Malawi’s 2025 presidential elections and a likely power broker in the upcoming elections between the ruling Malawi Congress Party — of which he was a member — and its rival, the Democratic Progressive Party. Although the vice president’s role in Malawi is mainly ceremonial, it holds key responsibilities, including providing strategic support, policy advice, and leadership in policy development to the country’s president.