“…We realize that the enemy (Dr. Banda) is both powerful and ruthless and that we are relatively weaker than him for now. We are convinced, however, that in the course of the struggle and in the long run, the revolutionary forces will be able to gain such strength and experience that will facilitate the development of such efficiency as is necessary to enable them gradually wear down the enemy’s strength to the point where he can be rooted and crushed.”
– Yatuta Chisiza, August 1967.
This month of October 2019 exactly marks 52 years after the ‘war’ in Mwanza between Malawi’ security forces on one front against an armed group of 17 under the umbrella of Ufulu Umodzi Malawi (UUMA) party led by Malawi’s former Home Affairs Minister Yatuta Chisiza on the opposite front.
It was during this ‘war’ that Yatuta Chisiza and his lieutenant Lutengano Mwahimba were shot dead while 5 of their lieutenants escaped successfully across the border as one committed suicide when 9 had been captured alive, later tried at the high court in Blantyre, hanged (except one who died in prison) and finally buried in unmarked graves in Zomba in 1969.
As rightly stated by former legislator Hon. Frank Mwenefumbo in Parliament on 24th February 2017, Yatuta Chisiza and Lutengano Mwahimba and 15 others had taken up arms to wage this ‘war’ with a motivation to fight for democracy and vehemently rejected and opposed the dictatorship and human rights abused in Malawi in the wake of the cabinet crisis of 1964.
The Mwanza ‘war’, directly or indirectly inspired many (such as Dr. Atatti Mpakati, Chakufwa Chihana and other freedom fighters) to rise up in due course and take other significant steps to resist and protest against the one party state regime that finally crumbled on 14th June 1993 when Malawians unanimously decided through a referendum to reinstate multi-party democracy.
Suffice to say that the re-institution of multi-party democracy in post-independent Malawi was not an event but rather a process and more so, the victory that was finally attained in this regard on 14th June 1993, was actually a product of an arduous struggle that had spanned for almost 30 years since the cabinet crisis of 1964 if not a little earlier than that.
It is within this limelight that Mwanza ‘war’ becomes an integral part of the history of this arduous struggle for freedom and democracy in post-independent Malawi.
May the souls of the following unsung and departed heroes of the October 1967 Mwanza ‘war’ rest in eternal peace:Yatuta Chisiza and Lutengano Mwahimba (Shot dead on 11th October 1967); Felix Mwaliyambwile (Committed suicide on the 16th October 1967); Felix Mwakawanga, Simon Chidawati, Harris Phombeya, Mwaona Mistimoyo, Tobias Bonongwe; Jackson Mphwanthi; Raphael Kamanga; Suwedi Masamba (hanged in 1969) and Michael Mwambande later died at Zomba prison; George Kanyanya (late); Manson Chiumia (late); Ian Munthali (late); J.B. Stennings Msiska (late); and finally, Frank Jiya (still alive).
Issued 6th of October 2019.