History Of Malawi

The Role of Foreign-Western Powers in the Cabinet Crisis of 1964 and Its Aftermath.

Kamuzu-propaganda-300x230One aspect that is quite often ignored or overlooked by many when discussing the advent of the cabinet crisis of 1964 in Malawi, is the role that the foreign-western powers (particularly Britain and USA in collaboration with apartheid South Africa) played from behind the curtains interms of overwhelmingly supporting Dr. Banda in his quest to brutally purge out the dissident cabinet ministers who were viewed to be radical ‘communists’.

In the aftermath of the cabinet crisis of 1964, the foreign-western powers (and apartheid regime) further collaborated with Dr. Banda in his consolidation of power by guaranteeing and providing the security, intelligence and military assistance to crush any threat to his regime besides the financial aid.

Other researchers have written that it is this sort of support that enabled Dr. Banda to last for 30 years in power throughout which the foreign-western powers chose to look the other way while Malawians suffered unspeakable oppression until when the USSR crumbled in 1991 when the western powers suddenly turned against Dr. Banda to side with the masses.

Prof. Stephen Brown in his article: The Transition from a Personal Dictatorship: Democratization and the Legacy of the Past in Malawi provides a proper context as follows:

At independence, unlike many of his African counterparts, Banda did not quickly Africanize the public sector or nationalize the private sector. Because of the absence of a radical or even reformist program (and the fact that whites were allowed to keep their properties and continue their economic activities relatively unimpeded), Britain maintained very close ties with its newly independent former colony, including substantial financial support.

Banda was virulently anti-Communist, supporting US intervention in Vietnam and opposing international recognition of the People’s Republic of China. He also showed no sympathy for national liberation movements in nearby countries, including Rhodesia and South Africa.

The concentration of power in Banda’s hands displeased his fellow political elites.Within a couple of months (after Independence), a confrontation occurred between Banda and his more left-leaning ministers. Though the disagreement was ostensibly about relatively minor policy matters, such as the pace of indigenization, the underlying issue was Banda’s role in setting policy or more precisely the nature of participation in decision-making.

Donors rewarded his pro-Western foreign policy generously and remained silent on the massive inequality and injustices that characterized the country.

When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Malawi in 1989, despite being an avid promoter of human rights in Eastern Europe, she ignored the massive rights violations in Malawi and even promised to increase foreign aid (Lwanda 1993: 161). The Bush (Senior) administration praised Malawi for being a “reliable partner” in the region (New York Times, April 3, 1990). Malawi retained World Bank and IMF support, despite evidence since the early 1980s of economic mismanagement.

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