â€¢ Born Webster Ryson Thom on 24 February 1934 at Chisoka Village, T/A Chimaliro, Thyolo.
â€¢ Did his primary school at Ulongwe Mission and Chingoli, Mulanje; Ntambanyama, Malamulo, Chisoka in Thyolo and Henry Henderson Institute in Blantyre.
â€¢ Obtained a Grade A Cambridge Overseas School Leaving Certificate at Dedza Secondary School in 1957.
â€¢ At the age of 27, he was awarded a Bachelors Degree of Economics at Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. Two years later, he was awarded a Masterâ€™s Degree in Economics at the same college.
â€¢ He returned home in 1963 and joined the civil service.Â Until 1964, he worked as an administrative officer, responsible for administering Banking, Currency and Foreign Exchange Regulations, Insurance and Building Societies. He was also responsible for drafting the first Reserve Bank of Malawi Act.
â€¢ Fled the country after the 1964 Cabinet Crisis and went to Zambia where he also served in a position similar to the one he had in Malawi. He worked there until 1966.
â€¢ In 1966, he joined the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For close to ten years, he rose to become Chief of the Africa Trade Centre. Among others, he spearheaded the establishment of several regional and sub-regional economic organisations, such as the Association of African Central Banks (AACB), the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, and the African Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (AFCCI).
â€¢ Joined The World Bank between 1975-1978 where, among different portfolios, he worked as loans officer for Kenya and Tanzania responsible for processing loans and credits to over a dozen projects.
â€¢ In 1978, he returned to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa where he was responsible for advising African governments on the role and impact of trans-national corporations on the African economy and trade. It was while serving in this portfolio that he actively participated in committees on the establishment of the Preferential Trade Areas of Eastern and Southern African States (PTA). He stayed there until 1990.
â€¢ Between 1991 and 1997, he became the Secretary General of the Preferential Trade Areas for Eastern and Southern Africa States which was later transformed into the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). While there, he spearheaded the creation of the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM), and the Eastern and Southern Africa Business Organisation (Esabo). He was also the brainchild behind the construction of the Comesa Hall at the Chichiri show grounds, Blantyre, with funds that he sourced for Malawi from the European Union.
â€¢ He came back home in 1997 and formed the United Party (UP). He contested for the presidency in 1999 general elections but did not succeed.
â€¢ In 2001, he disbanded UP and joined the United Democratic Front (UDF). From 2001, he worked as deputy governor of the Reserve Bank. He stayed until 2003 where he was appointed Minister of Economic Planning and Development. In the same year, again, he was endorsed the presidential candidate for UDF.
â€¢ In 2005, he left UDF and formed his political party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
â€¢ During his first term in office, Malawi achieved a high rate of agricultural production and food security. Through the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), approximately 1 700 000 resource poor smallholder farmers benefited.
â€¢ In the 2005/2006 crop season, Malawi achieved a food surplus of more than 500 000 tonnes. During the 2008/2009 planting season, food surpluses topped 1.3 million tonnes. He received a number of international awards for this.
â€¢ In 2008, Mutharika spearheaded the severing of the countryâ€™s diplomatic ties with Taiwan to China. The Chinese have helped spearhead infrastructural development in the country, for example, completion of the Karonga-Chitipa Road, the new Parliament building and the Conference Centre in Lilongwe.
â€¢ On 31 January 2010, he became the first sitting president of Malawi to be elected chairperson of the African Union.
â€¢ He received several honorary degrees. They include Professor of Economics by East China Normal University, in April 2010; Doctor of Letters (D.Lilkmktt) Degree Honoris Causa by the University of Delhi in October, 2010; Doctor of Laws (PhD) Degree (Honoris Causa), Mzuzu University, in 2008 and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree (Honoris Causa), University of Strathclyde, Scotland in 2005.
â€¢ He founded several non-profit making organisations, including the Bineth Trust, which promotes education; the Silver Grey Foundation, which promotes the welfare of the elderly and retired persons.
â€¢ He also spearheaded the expansion of university education in the country. The construction of the Malawi University of Science and Technology in Thyolo is just part of the initiative.
â€¢ He died of cardiac arrest on April 5, 2012 in Lilongwe.