Path: ICPP > ICPP 1980 > List of Countries --> Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
Kenneth Janda
Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press, 1980: pp. 281-282
The Party System in 1950-1956 and 1957-1962
(Text as published in 1980 citation above)

Amid the protests of African leaders, the British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland were joined in a federal government in September 1953. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was opposed by the African majority, who claimed it was a device to perpetuate white supremacy. The white leaders favored the federation for both its political potential and its economic value, which was especially attractive to its sponsor, Great Britain.

The federation held its first elections in December 1953, when the European led Federal Party won 24 of the 26 elected seats in the Federal Assembly, and the party's leader, Sir Godfrey Huggins (later Lord Malvern) became the federation's first prime minister. White opposition to the Federal Party was centered in the Confederate Party, which won only one seat in the Assembly. Nine additional seats were reserved for African representatives, but effective representation of Africans was deflected at the federal level. Only in Northern Rhodesia, where Harry Nkumbala and Kenneth Kaunda led the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress, and in Nyasaland, where Dr. Hastings Banda controlled the African National Congress, were the interests of the African population meaningfully expressed.

Huggins retired from political life in 1956 and was succeeded by Roy Welensky as prime minister and leader of the Federal Party, which later merged with the United Rhodesia Party to form the United Federal Party (UFP). The Federal Assembly passed an amendment to the constitution, effective January 1, 1958, which increased the Assembly to 59 members, admitting some additional African representatives. The first elections under the new amendment were held in November 1958, and the United Federal Party again won an overwhelming majority of the seats. But the Confederate opposition, reorganized into the Dominion Party, challenged the UFP by winning several seats while advocating white supremacy and severe segregation policies. Welensky, however, became the federation's prime minister once again.

Tensions within the federation steadily increased following the election as the demands of African leaders for the dissolution of the federation increased in number and in vigor. Kenneth Kaunda, after splitting with Nkumbula in 1958 to form the Zambian African National Congress (later the United National Independence Party), demanded the immediate withdrawal of Northern Rhodesia from the federation and the subsequent independence of the protectorate under the name of Zambia. Dr. Banda, after forming the Malawi Congress to replace the outlawed African National Congress of Nyasaland, made similar demands. The government, dominated by the white minority, banned several African parties and jailed many of their leaders, including Kaunda and Banda for a short period. Meanwhile, the British tried vainly to keep the federation intact. The federal elections of 1962 were boycotted by all African parties plus the Dominion Party, resulting in an overwhelming and hollow victory for Welensky and his United Federal Party. Britain finally realized that the federation was causing more problems than it was solving, and in December agreed to grant Nyasaland internal self-government and secession from the federation beginning on February 1, 1963. On July 3 the decision was reached to dissolve the federation officially as of December 31, 1963.

Continuity and Change since 1962

The graph of party strength over time in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland shows the termination of all four parties in our study. That is somewhat misleading, for in reality the polity ended but two of its parties continued, one lasting through 1978. In place of the old federation stood the new nations of Malawi, Rhodesia, and Zambia. We shall not attempt to inventory the parties that operated in these nations since 1963, but we will relate the fate of the four original ones.

Original Parties, Terminated

071 United Federal Party. The Federal Party terminated with the end of the federation in 1963, when it fragmented into separate parties in each of the three territories. Its remnants became the Rhodesia Party in Southern Rhodesia, the National Progress Party in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and the Nyasaland Constitutional Party in Nyasaland (Malawi). All these were white parties that played no substantial roles in the black governments of Zambia and Malawi. In the white government of Rhodesia, the Rhodesia Party opposed the racially intransigent Rhodesian Front government of Ian Smith but grew progressively weaker and was disbanded after the 1965 election, when it elected no Europeans to parliament.

072 Dominion Party. The Dominion Party certainly terminated along with the federation in 1963, but probably ended in 1962 with the formation of the Rhodesian Front, a collection of former Dominion Party members from Southern Rhodesia and others favored preservation of white supremacy. The Rhodesian Front became the governing party under Prime Minister Ian Smith.

073 African National Congress. Under the old federation, the ANC was a regional party, supported Africans in Northern Rhodesia and excluded from meaningful participation in federal politics. When the country emerged as the independent nation of Zambia in 1964, the ANC served as the opposition party to Kenneth Kaunda's United National Independence Party. The ANC ended in 1972, when all parties except UNIP were banned, and many ANC leaders were incorporated into the UNIP.

Original Parties, Continuing

074 Malawi Congress Party. Like the ANC, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) was regional, being ported by Africans in Nyasaland. Unlike ANC, b ever, the Malawi Congress Party emerged as the governing party in an independent Malawi. In 1966, the MCP leader and president of Malawi, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, declared the MCP to be the only legal party.

1. Our study of party politics in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is based on a file of 2,302 pages from 95 documents, all of 'ch are in English (see Table 1.3). The file was completed in 1968, 'ch accounts for the absence of more recent citations. The bibliographic search and indexing of material for the file was done by ward Matthews. Donald Hook coded the United Federal Party, Paul J. Rossa coded the other three parties. James R. Scarritt kindly reviewed this section and provided advice on our coding.