Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 074
Nyasaland and Malawi Congress, 074
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)
Party name and code number Nyasaland Malawi Congress Party, 074
Information base and researchers
The information base for party politics in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland consists of 2302 pages from 96 documents, all of which are in english . 374 pages, or 16 percent of the total pages, contained information pertaining to the Malawi Congress Party. Howard Matthews indexed the literature for retrieval. Paul J. Rossa coded the variables.James Scarritt was our consultant.

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 year of origin and 1.02 name changes
1944, ac9
7, ac9
The Malawi Congress Party was formed in 1959 as the successor of the recently banned Nyasaland African congress. The MCP and NAC were actually identical. The NAC was formed in 1944. The name change in 1959 was the only one during our time period.
1.03 organizational discontinuity
4, ac8
The MCP experienced one minor split in 1958 when a small group of NAC leaders formed the congress liberation party. The leader of the new party, t.d .t. Banda, was a recently expelled president of the NAC.
1.04 leadership competition
16, ac8
Five different leaders can be identified during our time period. The leadership of the MCP changed frequently before 1958. However, in 1959 Dr. Hastings Banda became the party"s president in 1959 and remained so through the remainder of our period, with the exception of the few months he was imprisoned . Dr. Banda was preceeded in his position by Orton Chirwa, who succeeded the expelled T.D.T. Banda. Orton Chirwa presided over the party"s name change in 1959, while Dr. Banda was imprisoned. The party president was elected by a party congress, usually consisting of over 100 members.
1.05 / 2.05 legislative instability and strength instability is undefined
strength is .00 for 1953-57, ac9, and .00 for 1958- 63, ac9
The MCP did not contest elections for the federal assembly and thus held no seats during our time period. Its instability score is undefined. In the 1961 elections to the territorial assembly, the MCP elected 20 of the 33 seats. But this is not included in our scoring.
1.06 / 2.06 electoral instability and strength instability is 1.83, ac3
strength is undefined
No estimate can be made of the party"s electoral strength at the federal level, for it chose not to contest the three elections in 1953, 1958, and 1962. Its instability score is based on its failure to participate in these elections. But the MCP polled over 90 percent of the total vote in the 1961 elections to the territorial assembly.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
2.01 government discrimination
1, ac5
Although the MCP was banned in 1959 by the Nyasaland government, and party leaders were subsequently jailed, this was a brief incident. The party suffered from a discriminatory electoral system before 1961. While the MCP controlled the Nyasaland legislature to some degree after 1961, the power of the legislature was questionable, at least until Nyasaland gained independence. The legislature was not the federal assembly, but merely that of Nyasaland.
2.02 governmental leadership
0 out of 5 for 1953-57, ac9
0 out of 6 for 1958-63, ac9
The MCP did not participate in politics at the federal level. The position of prime minister of the Federation was held by the united federal party throughout our time period. The position of prime minister of Nyasaland was held by Dr. Banda of the MCP after the 1961 elections.
2.03 cabinet participation
0 out of 5 for 1953-57, ac9
0 out of 6 for 1958-63, ac9
The MCP did not participate in politics at the federal level, and all cabinet positions were filled by ufp members.
2.04 national participation
1, ac8
The MCP was solely a regional party, participating only in Nyasaland politics and elections. Two members of the party were appointed as African representatives to the federal assembly in 1957, and were expelled from the party for accepting the positions.
2.07 outside origin
9, ac7
The MCP, formed in 1944 as the NAC, was created by leaders of small African associations dedicated to the welfare and advancement of the African population. These associions were probably formed by government civil servants.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
5.01 ownership of means of production
The MCP was considered by some to be inclined toward socialism. The party was in favor, however, of foreign investment.
5.02 government role in economic planning
3, ac3
The MCP seems to have advocated government planning in agricultural development and urban reform. Government control of wages and prices was also suggested. The basic policy of the party seems to have been an active government "prodding" of development.
5.03 redistribution of wealth
5, ac5
While the MCP advocated the advancement of Africans, no clear method of achieving this goal was evident. Still, our consultant states that MCP"s policy regarding this variable was clearer than that of anc.
5.04 social welfare
5, ac5
Social security for the aged, infirm, and disabled, as well as unemployment compensation for the rural population during the "off-season," national health services, and literacy drives, were advocated by the MCP.
5.05 secularization of society
No information
5.06 support of the military
No information
5.07 alignment with east-west blocs
The MCP suggested a policy of "discretionary alignment and neutrality" but failed to indicate the direction of possible alignment.
5.08 anti-colonialism
1, ac6
The MCP sought independence as a self-governing member of the british commonwealth for Nyasaland.
5.09 supranational integration
3, ac5
The MCP advocated the promotion of pan-Africanism, suggesting that the party desired African Federation (of African-ruled states) without loss of national identity.
5.10 national integration
5, ac9
The most basic policy of the MCP was the dismemberment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The party sought the secession of Nyasaland from the Federation.
5.11 electoral participation
5, ac6
The MCP advocated a policy of increasing the franchise by lowering the qualifications for voting. Until 1961, voting qualifications strongly discriminated against Africans and therefore African parties such as the MCP. The enfranchisement plan promoted by the MCP would have increased the electorate considerably.
5.12 protection of civil rights
5, ac3
The MCP advocated equal treatment of all citizens, and opposed white domination. Discrimination against Africans, quite common at the time, was naturally opposed by this African party. Discrimination against Europeans, a possibility should an African party gain control of the government, was disavowed by the MCP.
5.13 interference with civil liberties
No information
5.14 / 5.15 us--soviet experts left-right ratings
not rated 

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
6.00 open competition in the electoral process
1, ac5
The MCP favored open competition in the electoral process, but since this route was not truly available to the party, the MCP relied upon this strategy only as much as was possible. The MCP boycotted federal elections but participated in Nyasaland politics to the limited extent possible.
6.10 restricting party competition
0, ac7
The restriction of competing parties was not a strategy employed by the MCP.
6.20 subverting the political system
3, ac5
Since the electoral system discriminated against African parties such as the MCP, the party relied basically upon subversion of the political system to gain power or control. The party boycotted all forms of federal-level politics, including elections and appointments as representatives of African interests. Riots and demonstrations aimed at the political system, as well as strikes and boycotts, were supported and occasionally instigated by the MCP.
6.30 propagandizing ideas and program
6.31 1, ac5. The MCP occasionally published its own newspaper, but this was not considered to be the common practice of the party. The Malawi news, initiated in 1961, was a bi-weekly publication of the MCP.
6.32 0, ac5. There is no evidence of MCP-operated party schools.
6.33 2, ac7. The MCP often passed resolutions and election platforms at the party meetings.
6.34 2 , ac5. The MCP often published papers concerned with the party"s position on current issues.
6.50 providing for welfare of party members
No information on any of the variables.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
7.01 sources of funds
7, ac5
Nearly all of the party"s funds seem to originate in membership dues, affiliation dues, and ad hoc levies. The party newspaper, "Malawi news", also brought some funds into the MCP.
7.02 source of members
4, ac5
Some indirect members of the MCP were probable, since affiliated organizations were incorporated into the MCP constitution of 1960 and were probably also incorporated before the name change. However, since 1.5 million members were direct in the early 1960"s, and since a membership card became a status symbol to Africans during this time, it is probable that most affiliated members also joined the MCP as direct members.
7.03 sources of leaders
2 (sectors 03, 04), ac5
Most of the leaders of the MCP apparently come from the educational, professional, and small business sectors of the nation. All were Africans with above-average education and/or income. Many leaders, such as Dr. Banda, were educated at universities in foreign countries and became teachers, doctors, and lawyers, highly unusual for Nyasaland Africans.
7.04 relations with domestic parties
7, ac7
The MCP was completely autonomous of other parties. Cooperation and communication with leaders of other independence movements in southern and Northern Rhodesia were common, but no form of alliance was apparent.
7.05 relations with foreign organizations
5, ac5
while the MCP cooperated with other African nations and movements, the party was not affiliated with any foreign organizations. Attendance at the 1958 all-peoples conference of accra does not constitute any such affiliation.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
8.01 structural articulation
11 for 1st half, ac5
11 for 2nd half, ac8
The constitution of the MCP, adopted in 1960 at the time of name-change, provided for a central executive committee, a national committee, an annual delegates conference, a standing finance committee, and youth and women"s leagues, all of which were national organs. Selection procedures were fairly well prescribed, and functional responsibilities quite specific. The NAC seems to have been similar in structure.
8.02 intensiveness of organization
4 for 1st half, ac5
4 for 2nd half, ac8
The smallest unit of organization within the MCP was the branch, which consisted of at least ten party members.
8.03 extensiveness of organization
3, ac5
The MCP extended branches throughout most of Nyasaland and small portions of southern and Northern Rhodesia, where Nyasaland natives migrated in search of labor. Nyasaland itself constituted approximately one-third of the population of the Federation.
8.04 frequency of local meetings
6 for 1st half, ac3
6 for 2nd half, ac5
District meetings of the MCP were held approximately once monthly after 1960. Branches probably met more often. Since the NAC strongly resembled the post-name-change MCP, local meetings may have been nearly as frequent.
8.05 frequency of national meetings for 1st half,
3 for 2nd half, ac8
The national committee of the MCP met twice a year after the 1960 name change.
8.06 maintaining records
5 for 1st half, ac3
6 for 2nd half, ac5
The NAC expended some energies in publishing party propaganda, but after 1960 the MCP was certainly more concerned with this activity. For example, the MCP started a party newspaper. No archive or research division is evident at any time within the party. Since data on membership and dues and card-distribution is available in estimated figures, membership lists are probable, but their accuracy is questionable.
8.07 pervasiveness of organization
ac1 for 1st half
6 for 2nd half, ac9
The constitution of the MCP provides for both a youth and a women"s league. Both organizations enlisted significant numbers, and were a constant source for party activities. The women"s league was referred to as the "amazon army." although the trade union in Nyasaland sympathized with the MCP, it cannot be considered as party-affiliated. The trade union often disagreed with MCP positions, notably the party"s support for foreign investments. Prior to 1960, the MCP did not seem to have either a youth or women"s wing, but no evidence supports or denies the existence of socio-economic organizations of the party.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
9.01 nationalization of structure
6 for 1st half, ac3
6 for 2nd half, ac5
The MCP had a single national body which acted directly on the local organizations. This body was called the central executive committee after 1960, and probably the national conference before the name change. No actual regional organizations existed in the party, since the party itself was specific to one region within the national Federation.
9.02 selecting the national leader
3, ac8
The leader of the MCP was elected by the annual delegates conference every three years. Delegates were chosen by branch organizations.
9.03 selecting parliamentary candidates
9 for 2nd half, ac9
The MCP did not participate in federal elections, and the above codes apply to candidates of the party for parliamentary seats in the Nyasaland legislature. The NAC did not nominate candidates, but supported members of the party when they contested the elections. After 1958, the MCP leader, Dr. Banda, chose party candidates personally.
9.04 allocating funds
ac2 for 1st half
5 for 2nd half, ac9
According to the party constitution of 1960, all funds, collected at all levels of the party organization, were to be transferred to the central executive committee which would allocate them. It is not clear where responsibility for the allocation of funds was vested in the MCP prior to 1960.
9.05 formulating policy
5 for 1st half, ac3
7 for 2nd half, ac7
Policy seems to have been determined by the national meetings of the MCP prior to 1958. After that time, Dr. Banda assumed all policy formulation responsibilities.
9.06 controlling communications
0 for 1st half, ac3
6 for 2nd half, ac5
The NAC controlled no important communications media at any level. After 1960, the national level of the MCP controlled its own newspaper, "the Malawi news," but the degree of influence of the paper is questionable. The national level of the party controlled the content of regional and national news to some extent, through distribution of information.
9.07 administering discipline
4 for 1st half, ac3
4 for 2nd half, ac9
Major disciplinary techniques eem to have been administered by the national meeting of the MCP prior to 1960. The constitution of the party, introduced in that year, provided the party president with powers of discipline.
9.08 leadership concentration
1 for 1st half, ac3
6 for 2nd half, ac9
Leadership seemed quite diffuse prior to Dr. Banda"s arrival as president of the MCP. Prior to 1958, pronouncements on behalf of the party were made by several individuals with no binding authority. In contrast to this diffuseness, Dr. Banda was able to personally bind the party to courses of action.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
10.01 legislative cohesion
ac2 for 1st half
0.90 for 2nd half, ac3
The MCP held no seats in the federal assembly, and there is no solid data concerning the votes of MCP legislators in the territorial assembly. Since Dr. Banda controlled the party with his power to nominate and discipline candidates after 1958, and since his support was widespread and deep within the African electorate, the cohesiveness of the party"s parliamentarians was probably quite strong.
10.02 ideological factionalism
0, ac3
There is no evidence of any ideological factionalism within the MCP.
10.03 issue factionalism
It can be assumed that no MCP factionalism existed regarding major issues , such as the maintenance of the Federation and extension of the franchise. However, other issues may have caused some factionalism.
10.04 leadership factionalism
4 for 1st half, ac3
0 for 2nd half, ac9
Many small leadership factions were evident within the party prior to Dr. Banda"s reign. One great problem which the MCP faced prior to 1958 was the search for a leader. Later, Dr. Banda was supported by most of the party"s leaders, and those that disagreed with his presidency bolted the party.
10.05 strategic or tactical factionalism
5 for 1st half, ac5
3 for 2nd half, ac5
One of the great divisions in the MCP was concerned with the strategy and tactics the party was to employ. A large group within the party believed that the MCP should cooperate with the Federation and work "from the inside" for its dismemberment. Younger members opposed this strategy and advocated violent non-cooperation. Dr. Banda chose non-cooperation, but did not support violence. A small group of the radical young remained in favor of violent demonstrations.
10.06 party purges
0, ac5
Although the MCP occasionally expelled various members from the party, no purges of the magnitude described by this variable were evident.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 membership requirements
3 for 1st half, ac3
3 for 2nd half, ac9
Members of the MCP were required to pay a modest initiation fee, pay annual dues, and were allowed to carry a membership card. Membership cards were issued by the party before 1960, and while it is uncertain whether members paid dues, this requirement was also likely.
11.02 membership participation
3 for 1st half, ac3
3 for 2nd half, ac7
Most members of the MCP attended meetings often and occasionally performed party activities. Massive youth and women"s leagues were a constant source of party activists. When party activists were jailed in 1959, incarceration of one"s husband became a status symbol among African wives.
11.03 material incentives
0, ac6
Many European employers, including the government, discriminated against MCP members, especially when they were suspected of being activists. The party itself offered no material rewards of any significance.
11.04 purposive incentives
3 for 1st half, ac3
3 for 2nd half, ac5
Most activists of the MCP seem to be motivated by purposive incentives. Federation and electoral discrimination was strongly opposed by most Africans, many of whom joined the MCP for these reasons.
11.05 doctrinism
0, ac3
There is no evidence of any written literature to which MCP leaders refer in justification of their actions.
11.06 personalism
0 for 1st half, ac3
1 for 2nd half, ac5
While the MCP contained some charismatic leaders before 1958, their influence was generally insignificant in motivating activists. Dr. Banda, however, drew many supporters and activists because of his charismatic qualities. While one may believe that his presence brought the great increase in MCP activists in 1958 through 1960, the effects of the emergency acts in 1959, in which the MCP was outlawed, cannot be underestimated in their instigation of increased MCP support and activism. The publicity of this affair greatly aroused latent African supporters.