History Of Malawi


Although the state apparatus of repression was still intact, growing discontent against the tyrannical one-party regime led to the formation of a small and loose but active underground opposition movement right inside Malawi prior to 1991.

From this underground opposition movement, two anonymous epistles emerged in the month of February 1992 which were circulated in Malawi.

Remarkably, this was way before the pastoral letter by Catholic bishops against the human rights abuses of the one-party state was read out on 8th March 1992 in catholic churches across the country.

The first one was a strongly worded epistle which apart from generally attacking the one-party state regime, also bemoaned in particular the role of JZU Tembo the Minister of State in orchestrating atrocities of the one-party state.

This was in reaction to the BBC World Service Interview with JZU Tembo in which he defended the one-party state and trashed the exiled agitators for multi-party democracy as “confusionists who are jealousy of peace and clam, law and order reigning in Malawi.”

Entitled An Open Letter to Hon. John Tembo, the epistle specifically accused JZU Tembo of telling the world blatant lies:

“Are you really telling the truth that people in this country are free to express their views on any subject? How can you make such statements? No Malawian in this country is free to express his or her view or opinion. Merely to express a view is to go to prison. Yet you choose to lie shamefully to the world…”

According to Father Patrick O’Malley (2015) in his memoir Living Dangerously, this epistle was drafted by Bakili Muluzi, typed and circulated by himself (Patrick O’Malley) in collaboration with his fellow lecturer at Chancellor College called Prof. David Kerr.

The second anonymous epistle was drafted by Father Patrick O’Malley and Prof. David Kerr as a special tribute to the martyrs ahead of Matyrs day (3rd March 1992). Like the first one, this epistle generally condemned the one-party regime and further reiterated that since independence in 1964, the one-party state was “making new martyrs everyday”.

Father Patrick O’Malley in his memoir, states that during a secret meeting held at Bakili Muluzi’s residence in Blantyre which had been facilitated by Brown Mpinganjira who was also instrumental in the underground opposition movement, Bakili Muluzi offered to cover all financial expenses for the logistical arrangements pertaining to the circulation of the two epistles. He further reveals that Bakili Muluzi himself was later actively involved in the clandestine distribution of the copies of these two epistles at public places around Blantyre.

Hard copies of these two epistles were also sent by post to diplomatic missions, principal secretaries, army commander, inspector general of police, members of parliament, MCP district chairpersons, bishops/church leaders, heads of banks and other business entities, heads of departments/deans of faculties in colleges as well as head masters/mistresses at some secondary schools.

Feedback: p.chinguwo@historyofmalawi.com

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