On this day, the 11th of May 1992, the major aid donors to developing countries commenced their three day meeting in Paris (France) where they unanimously decided to suspend non humanitarian aid to Malawi for six months as a measure to compel the Malawi Government to make substantive progress on the observance of human rights.
This was partly due to fierce lobbying by various political formations in exile such as United Front for Multi-party Democracy (UFMD) and a newly formed political party called Alliance for Democracy (AFORD).
According to Mr. Frank Jiya who was among the top leadership of UFMD, late Dr. Meki Mtewa was delegated to represent UFMD at the the donors’ meeting in Paris where AFORD was also represented.
The Paris meeting took place immediately after another UFMD delegation of five that included Mr. Francis Mphepo, Mr. George Kanyanya had made a submission on human rights violations in Malawi before the US Congressional Committee in Washington D.C.
In response to this international pressure in the wake of protests and riots that had occurred in Blantyre and Lilongwe on 6th and 7th May 1992 respectively, thus following the pastoral letter issued on 8 March 1992 by catholic bishops, university students’ demonstrations and workers’strikes (in March, April and May), the then Life President of Malawi Dr. Banda ordered the release of long-term detainees held under the Preservation of Public Security Regulations.
Although the last political detainees held at Mikuyu Prison appeared to have been released in the course of 1992, some long-term political prisoners remained at Zomba Central Prison till mid 1993. These included three men detained without trial since the mid-1960s namely: Nelson Mtambo, Sidney Songo and Ntwana Mlombwa.
These three men were reportedly arrested in the aftermath of an abortive armed rebellion led by former Cabinet Minister Masauko Chipembere against Dr. Kamuzu Banda’s government which was staged in February 1965.
It is not known if Nelson Mtambo, Sidney Songo and Ntwana Mlombwa were indeed actively involved in the Chipembere led armed rebellion. However, what is known is that Nelson Mtambo was a cook employed by Masauko Chipembere while Sidney Songo and Ntwana Mlombwa hailed from Masauko Chipembere’s home village in Malindi, Mangochi.