History Of Malawi

Remembering Margaret Mlanga, a struggle icon (1927-2020).

The death of Margaret Mlanga was announced on 2nd October 2020. She was born on 30th May 1927 in Blantyre. She did her primary school and at HHI and Blantyre Girls. She later became a teacher.

Margeret Mlanga was among the women who actively participated in the struggle for independence of Nyasaland. Rose Chibambo as Chairperson of the League of Women for the Nyasaland African Congress was arrested in March 1959 following the state of emergency. Margeret Mlanga who was deputising Rose Chibambo, then served as the Chairperson of the Women League while Rose Chibambo was in detention.

Margeret Mlanga was also among the party women leaders who firmly stood by Kamuzu Banda during the cabinet crisis of 1964. And committed their loyalty to Kamuzu Banda.

Soon after cabinet crisis of 1964, she was rewarded by Dr Kamuzu Banda with a top position of the National Chairperson of the Women League (MCP).

Later in 1966, Dr Kamuzu Banda further appointed Margaret Mlanga as Parliamentary Secretary in the office of the President, a position she continued to serve up to the 1970s when she finally fell out of grace with Dr Kamuzu Banda.

In April 1976, she was appointed to become Secretary of the MCP Regional Committee for the South.

In the 1970s, while occupying the position of a National Chairperson of Women League, she also served as a member of the Disciplinary Committee of MCP under Gwanda Chakuamba as its Chairperson.

According to Gwanda Chakuamba in his autobiography published in 2016, in the 1970s he was chairing the MCP Disciplinary Committee.

A case was brought before him concerning Margaret Mlanga a top leader in the Women’s League of MCP. Mama Kadzamira had taken a party cloth to a tailor in Ndirande to make a suit for her (Mama Kadzamira) .

The tailor made the suit in such a way that the Kamuzu’s face on the cloth had been cut into two. The tailor took the finished suit to Mrs Margeret Mlanga to deliver to Mama Kadzamira.

Eventually, Kamuzu Banda got furious about his face being cut into two. Mama Kadzamira denied that the suit was not actually hers but belonged to Margeret Mlanga.

Kamuzu Banda then proceeded to report the matter to Gwanda Chakuamba as Chair of Disciplinary Committee with an accusation that Margeret Mlanga had cut the cloth herself and therefore must be dealt with accordingly.
_”We are keeping a rebel in the party, deal with this case. I don’t want to see her again”_ . This was Kamuzu Banda’s instructions to Gwanda Chakuamba.

Then Gwanda Chakuamba confessed in his autobiography as follows:

“I summoned the Disciplinary Committee. Mrs Margeret Mlanga denied the allegations that were being leveled against her. I knew that she was telling the truth, but how could I go against Kamuzu? He had already made his judgment about her and all I needed to do was implement… For myself, I knew if I challenged Kamuzu Banda I would be arrested. I was not ready to suffer anymore as I had already done.”

Mrs Margaret Mlanga was sent to prison in Nsanje for 9 months. Her husband lost his job at Malawi Housing Corporation. Her house in Mount Pleasant was confiscated by the state. Her family immediately relocated to Phalula.

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