1961 Nyasaland general election

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General elections were held for the Legislative Council in Nyasaland in August 1961. The result was a victory for the Malawi Congress Party, which won all 20 lower roll seats (in five of which they were unopposed) [1] and two of the eight higher roll seats.


Electoral system

There were two voter rolls, a lower roll with a predominantly African electorate, which elected 20 members, and had 106,095 registered voters, and a higher roll of largely European and Asian electors, which elected eight members, with 4,337 registered voters. As five constituencies in the lower roll were uncontested, only 75,707 voters were eligible on election day. [2] All members were elected from single-member constituencies, which largely followed the same boundaries as the country's districts.

DistrictLower roll electorateLower roll constituencyHigher roll electorateHigher roll constituency
Karonga 5,266Karonga32Northern Province
Mzimba 13,802Mzimba North
Mzimba South
Nkata Bay 5,643Nkata Bay30
Rumpi 3,597Rumpi28
Dedza 5,741Dedza82Central Districts
Dowa 6,467Dowa82
Fort Manning 4,087Kasungu Fort Manning23
Kasungu 4,01225
Kota Kota 4,285Kota Kota25
Ncheu 4,368Ncheu43
Lilongwe 9,649Lilongwe North
Lilongwe South
485Central Districts
Lilongwe Town
Blantyre 4,065Blantyre Urban2,036Blantyre
8,072Blantre Rural
Chikwawa 2,638Lower River28Southern Districts
Port Herald 1,94947
Cholo 4,754Cholo295
Mlanje 7,654Mlanje191
Fort Johnston 2,253Fort Johnston Kasupe48Shire North
Kasupe 2,15022
Zomba 5,643Zomba522
Source: Constituencies Commission [3]


PartyLower RollUpper RollTotal
Malawi Congress Party 71,65998.792038510.34222
United Federal Party 6070.8402,10856.5955
Christian Liberation Party2720.3700
Registered voters/turnout75,7074,337
Source: Nohlen et al.


Before the elections, the Colonial Office had assumed that the Malawi Congress Party would be entitled to three Executive Council seats through winning a majority of the lower roll seats. As the Lancaster House agreement provided that two Executive Council seats would go to ministers elected from the higher roll, it was thought that the mainly white United Federal Party would gain both these seats. In the event, the United Federal Party only won five seats, two going to Congress and one to a Congress-inclined independent, Colin Cameron. The Governor offered the United Federal Party a single Executive Council seat, which it refused. This left all five elected Executive Council seats available for Congress candidates. [4]


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  1. Dieter Nohlen, Michael Krennerich & Bernhard Thibaut (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p558 ISBN   0-19-829645-2
  2. Nohlen et al, p558
  3. Nyasaland Legislative Council Elections, 1961: Report of the Constituencies Commission Constituencies Commission, pp9-12
  4. J McCracken (2012) A History of Malawi, 1859–1966 Woodbridge, James Currey, pp381–52, 403–4, ISBN   978-1-84701-050-6