Ambassador from Malawi: Who is Steve Matenje?
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Steve Matenje became ambassador of Malawi to the United States in September 2010. He also serves as his nation’s top diplomat to Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.
Born on February 17, 1956, in Zomba, Malawi, Matenje received a certificate in education from the Likuni Boys’ Secondary School in Lilongwe in 1975. He earned a Bachelor of Laws with honors from Chancellor College, University of Malawi, in 1980, and a certificate in legislative drafting in 1986. He also received a diploma in international law from the University College London in 1983 and a Master in Arts degree in business law from City of London Polytechnic in 1987.
His father, Dick Matenje, was a cabinet minister, but he died mysteriously, along with two other cabinet ministers and a member of parliament, in May 1983. At the time, the government of dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda said that the four had been killed in a traffic accident. However, a commission of inquiry in 1994 determined that they had been murdered after voicing support for a multiparty democracy.
A member of the Malawi Public Service since 1980, Steve Matenje became the senior state advocate in 1985, representing the national government in civil and criminal cases and drafting legal instruments.
In 1989, Matenje was appointed parliamentary draftsman and in 1992 chief parliamentary draftsman, responsible for checking all legislative drafts.
Matenje served as solicitor general and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice from 1995 to 2006.
Prior to his appointment as ambassador to the U.S, he served as Malawi’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Matenje has negotiated numerous loans on behalf of Malawi’s government, including several with the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Developmen.
He has also served as a member of various legal commissions, including a Law Commission on the Technical Review of the Constitution in 1998 and a review of the Legal Aid Act in 2003. In 2002, he participated in the task force on the Review of the Legal and Administrative Instruments.
Matenje and his wife, Isabel, have two sons and two daughters.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
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