The first multi-party elections in Malawi were conducted on 15 August 1961 for the legislative council of Nyasaland. This was way before Nyasaland became independent on 6th July 1964.
Voter registration period of five weeks for the elections opened on the 13th February 1961 and closed on the 18th March 1961. A figure of 350 voter registration posts were mentioned in January 1961 but the actual number that eventually opened was 253.
District offices, Court houses, Native Authority offices, markets and produce buying centre of African Production and Marketing Boards as well as a few schools were used as voter registration posts.
While the District offices were opened for voter registration during office hours throughout the entire registration period, the other registration posts were opened at fixed hours on fixed days.
In these elections, there were two voter rolls. A lower roll with a predominantly African electorate which elected 20 members and had 106,095 registered voters. The other one was a higher roll of largely European and Asian electorates which elected eight members with 4,337 registered voters.
Five constituencies in the lower roll were uncontested and only 75,707 voters were eligible to cast the vote on the election day.
The result of the elections was a landslide victory for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which won all 20 lower roll seats (five of which were unopposed) and two of the eight higher roll seats.
The two candidates for MCP who won the higher roll seats were Sattar Sacranie and Mikeka Mkandawire. Colin Cameron who was a member of MCP, contested as an independent candidate for the higher roll seat (Soche constituency).
The United Federal Party (UFP) won five of the eight higher roll seats and none in the lower roll seats while the Christian Liberation Party (CLP) failed to win any seat in both the lower and upper rolls.
The expectation of the UFP was that the majority seats they had won in the upper roll, entitled them to high roll ministries, and the UFP leader Michael Blackwood would not accept anything less. Dr. Kamuzu Banda, however, rejected a proposal for a coalition government.
Eventually, the cabinet then called Executive Council was formed by the MCP leader Dr. Kamuzu Banda leaving out UFP members. The following MCP parliamentarians elected from lower roll were appointed ministers:
- Dr. Banda- Natural Resources and Local Government
- Kanyama Chiume- Education
- Augustine Bwanausi- Labour
- Orton Chirwa – Justice (Deputy Minister/parliamentary secretary)
- Dunduzu Chisiza- Finance (Deputy Minister/parliamentary secretary)
From the higher roll, Dr. Kamuzu Banda appointed the following as ministers:
- Colin Cameron- Works and Transport
- Mikeka Mkandawire- without portfolio
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