List of heads of state of Malawi

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This is a list of the heads of state of Malawi, from the independence of Malawi in 1964 to the present day.


From 1964 to 1966 the head of state under the Constitution of 1964 was the queen of Malawi, Elizabeth II, who was also the queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The monarch was represented in Malawi by a governor-general. Malawi became a republic within the Commonwealth under the Constitution of 1966 and the monarch and governor-general were replaced by an executive president.

Monarch (1964–1966)

The succession to the throne was the same as the succession to the British throne.

ReignRoyal House Prime minister(s)
Reign startReign endDuration
1 Queen Elizabeth II 1959 (cropped).jpg Queen Elizabeth II
6 July 19646 July 19662 years Windsor Banda


The governor-general was the representative of the monarch in Malawi and exercised most of the powers of the monarch. The governor-general was appointed for an indefinite term, serving at the pleasure of the monarch. Since Malawi was granted independence by the Malawi Independence Act 1964, rather than being first established as a semi-autonomous dominion and later promoted to independence as defined by the Statute of Westminster 1931, the governor-general was to be always appointed solely on the advice of the Cabinet of Malawi without the involvement of the British government. As Malawi became a republic before Glyn Jones, the former colonial governor, was replaced, this has never happened. In the event of a vacancy the chief justice would have served as the officer administering the government.

  Denotes Chief Justice acting as Officer Administering the Government
Term of officeMonarch Prime minister(s)
Took officeLeft officeTime in office
1 No image.png Sir Glyn Jones
6 July 19646 July 19662 yearsElizabeth II Banda

President of Malawi

Under the country's 1966, 1994 and 1995 constitutions, the president is executive head of state.

The first president, Hastings Banda, was elected by the National Assembly and subsequently had himself declared president for life in 1970. He was defeated in 1994, a year after his life term was abolished as part of Malawi's transition to democracy. Since then, presidents have been elected in direct popular elections for a five-year term. Presidents may be elected any number of times, but not more than twice in a row. In the event of a vacancy, the vice-president becomes president for the balance of the term.

  Denotes Vice-President acting as President
ElectedTerm of officePolitical party
Took officeLeft officeTime in office
1 Dr HK Banda, first president of Malawi.jpg Hastings Banda
(c.1899–1997) [lower-alpha 1]
6 July 196624 May 199427 years, 322 days Malawi Congress Party
2 Bakili Muluzi at High Court (cropped).jpg Bakili Muluzi
(born 1943)
24 May 199424 May 200410 years United Democratic Front
3 Mutharika at Met.jpg Bingu wa Mutharika
2004 24 May 20045 April 2012
(Died in office.)
7 years, 317 days
2009 Democratic Progressive Party [lower-alpha 2]
4 Joyce Banda August 2012.jpg Joyce Banda
(born 1950)
7 April 201231 May 20142 years, 54 days People's Party
5 Arthur Peter Mutharika 2014 (cropped).jpg Peter Mutharika
(born 1940)
31 May 201428 June 20206 years, 28 days Democratic Progressive Party
6 Lazarus Chakwera Profile.png Lazarus Chakwera
(born 1955)
2020 28 June 2020Incumbent2 years, 107 days Malawi Congress Party



  1. Served as President for Life from 6 July 1971 to February 1994.
  2. Founded in 2005.