History Of Malawi

CABINET CRISIS OF 1964: UNTOLD STORIES 15

Kamuzu-propaganda-300x230After Parliament Session of 8-9 September 1964.
 In the following few weeks, all the ex-ministers, except Masauko Chipembere, fled the country for Zambia and Tanzania.
On Saturday the 26th September 1964, just before he set off for Central and Northern regions, Dr. Banda rang Governor General Sir Glyn Jones and said:
Chipembere‘s thugs have beaten up Kuntumanji and Lali Lubani (both older leading officials of the MCP) at Fort Johnstone.”
Dr. Banda had got wind that Chipembere‘s followers were going to Blantyre to organise a public rally the next day Sunday the 27th September 1964, probably connected with the alleged plan to set up a new political party and he did not want the rally to take place. He told the Governor General:
“IF NECESSARY, FORCE MUST BE USED TO STOP IT TAKING PLACE. IF NECESSARY PEOPLE MUST BE SHOT AND I MEAN THAT THE POLICE MUST SHOOT TO KILL. YOU ARE INCHARGE OF PUBLIC ORDER, YOUR EXCELLENCY, WHILE IAM AWAY IN THE NORTH. THE MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC ORDER AND SECURITY IS PARAMOUNT AT THIS TIME. ONE PERSON (CHIPEMBERE) CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO ENDANGER THE SECURITY OF THE WHOLE STATE.”
Later that day, a number of violent clashes occurred. 200 members of Malawi Youth League arrived in Limbe to stop people attending Chipembere‘s rally scheduled for the following day. Local residents resented their presence, fighting broke out and some 20 people were injured.
In the afternoon of Sunday the 27 September 1964, despite the banning of his rally as police permission had not been secured, Chipembere spoke for a few minutes to a peaceful crowd of 300 people that had gathered right outside of the house where he was staying.

Just before he finished speaking, gangs of Malawi Youth League arrived in government lorries, heavily armed with clubs and iron bars, and attacked the audience. There was a bloody affray resulting in 20 casualties.

In the meantime, at Thondwe, ten miles south of Zomba on the road to Blantyre, near a Young Pioneer Training Base, a large tree had been felled across the road by the an armed group of about 170 Youth Leaguers, who were manning this road block from the early hours of Sunday in order to prevent Chipembere and his supporters from reaching Blantyre for the banned rally.

The following week was even more deeply troubled. It opened on a Monday morning (28th September 1964) with rioting, arson and serious fighting between the pro-Banda Youth Leaguers and largely pro-Chipembere civil servants in Zomba.
On Wednesday (30th September 1964), all Malawian government employees in Zomba went on strike, government offices were closed early. They wore white bands around their wrists to show they were  not Youth Leaguers but were pro-Chipembere.
When Youens (Chief Secretary to Government) spoke to the striking civil servants, his suggestion that a delegation should put their grievances to the government was not well received and there were demands that only Chipembere should address them.
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Source: The Life of George Ndomondo, Book by George Ndomondo and Colin Baker.

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