Malawi Congress Party

Last updated

Malawi Congress Party
President Lazarus Chakwera
Founder Orton Chirwa
Aleke Banda
Preceded by Nyasaland African Congress
Youth wing Malawi Young Pioneers (disbanded)
Ideology Ubuntu
Conservatism [1]
African nationalism [2]
Political position Centre-right (with right-wing factions)
Big tent
Regional affiliation Democrat Union of Africa
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International
Colors Black, Red and Green
National Assembly
55 / 193
0 / 5
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5
Election symbol
Party flag
Mcp flag 3.gif

The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is a political party in Malawi. It was formed as a successor party to the banned Nyasaland African Congress when the country, then known as Nyasaland, was under British rule. The MCP, under Hastings Banda, presided over Malawian independence in 1964, and from 1966 to 1993 was the only legal party in the country. It has continued to be a major force in the country since losing power.


Following a court order to have a rerun of the 2019 Presidential election, a fresh Presidential election was held on 23 June 2020 which resulted in the MCP and its Tonse Alliance partners receiving approximately 60% of the national vote ushering the party back into government.


The Malawi Congress Party was the successor to the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) party, which was banned in 1959. The MCP was founded in 1959 by Orton Chirwa, Nyasaland's first African barrister, soon after his release from Gwelo Prison, and other NAC leaders including Aleke Banda and S. Kamwendo, in agreement with Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who remained in prison. The purpose for dashing the original NAC to form the MCP was the need for free operation since NAC was a banned party by that time.

Orton Chirwa became the first MCP president and later was succeeded by Hastings Banda after he was released from Gwelo Prison. Banda continued to hold the Presidency until his death in 1997.

In the 1961 Nyasaland elections, the MCP won all the seats in the legislature and later led Nyasaland to independence as Malawi in 1964. When Malawi became a republic in 1966, the MCP was formally declared to be the only legal party. For the next 27 years, the government and the MCP were effectively one. All adult citizens were required to be party members. They had to carry "party cards" in their wallets at all times.

The MCP lost its monopoly on power in a 1993 referendum and was roundly defeated in the country's first free elections the next year. It remains a major force in Malawian politics. It is strongest in the central region, populated by ethnic Chewa and Nyanja people.


The current MCP set up has seen the sprung up of affiliate groups that are all working to strengthen the party. Among them are Kokoliko , Mighty Tambala Graduates, Born Free and Malawi Congress Party Diaspora Network (MCPDN) . The MCP Diaspora Network has seen all MCP members and supporters living outside Malawi working together in support of the mother party back home. [3] It has Regional Wings in countries like UK, RSA, USA , Republic of Ireland , Canada and Gulf Region. The MCPDN current leader is UK based Chalo Mvula [4]


MCP members

Electoral history

Presidential elections

ElectionParty candidateVotes%Result
1994 Hastings Banda 996,35333.44%LostRed x.svg
1999 Gwanda Chakuamba 2,106,79045.21%LostRed x.svg
2004 John Tembo 937,96528.22%LostRed x.svg
2009 1,365,67230.49%LostRed x.svg
2014 Lazarus Chakwera 1,455,88027.8%LostRed x.svg
2019 1,781,74035.41%LostRed x.svg
2020 2,604,04359.34%ElectedGreen check.svg

National Assembly elections

ElectionParty leaderVotes%Seats+/–Position
1961 Orton Chirwa Lower roll71,65998.8%
22 / 28
Increase2.svg 22Increase2.svg 1st
Higher roll38510.3%
1964 Hastings Banda General roll
50 / 53
Increase2.svg 28Steady2.svg 1st
Special roll
60 / 60
Increase2.svg 10Steady2.svg 1st
70 / 70
Increase2.svg 10Steady2.svg 1st
1978 100%
87 / 87
Increase2.svg 17Steady2.svg 1st
1983 100%
101 / 101
Increase2.svg 14Steady2.svg 1st
1987 100%
112 / 112
Increase2.svg 11Steady2.svg 1st
1992 100%
141 / 141
Increase2.svg 29Steady2.svg 1st
1994 996,04733.68%
56 / 177
Decrease2.svg 85Decrease2.svg 2nd
1999 Gwanda Chakuamba 1,518,54833.81%
66 / 193
Increase2.svg 10Steady2.svg 2nd
2004 John Tembo 785,67124.85%
57 / 193
Decrease2.svg 9Steady2.svg 2nd
2009 562,85912.94%
26 / 193
Decrease2.svg 31Steady2.svg 2nd
2014 Lazarus Chakwera 895,65917.37%
48 / 193
Increase2.svg 22Steady2.svg 2nd
2019 1,108,73522.32%
55 / 193
Increase2.svg 7Steady2.svg 2nd

See also

Related Research Articles

The History of Malawi covers the area of present-day Malawi. The region was once part of the Maravi Empire. In colonial times, the territory was ruled by the British, under whose control it was known first as British Central Africa and later Nyasaland. It became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The country achieved full independence, as Malawi, in 1964. After independence, Malawi was ruled as a one-party state under Hastings Banda until 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of Malawi</span> Political system of Malawi

Politics of Malawi takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Malawi is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. There is a cabinet of Malawi that is appointed by the President of Malawi. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The government of Malawi has been a multi-party democracy since 1994. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Malawi a "hybrid regime" in 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hastings Banda</span> Malawian government leader (c. 1898 – 1997)

Hastings Kamuzu Banda was the prime minister and later president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994.

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John Zenus Ungapake Tembo is a Malawian politician who served for years as President of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Tembo comes from the Dedza District in central Malawi, and he is a teacher by profession. Beginning in the 1960s he was an important politician in Malawi, and he was a key figure in the regime of Hastings Banda (1964–1994). He has been variously described as "physically slight, ascetic, fastidious" and "cunning". He was replaced as President of the MCP in August 2013.

Gwandaguluwe "Gwanda" Chakuamba Phiri was a Malawian politician who was the leader of the New Republican Party (NRP). He hailed from Nsanje, a district on the southern part of Malawi. Gwanda Chakuamba attended Zomba Catholic Secondary School, a 2 year metriculation at Sulosi College in Bulawayo Zimbabwe before proceeding to the US to study law though not much is known about whether he did a degree program or a short course.

The Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) was an organisation that evolved into a political party in Nyasaland during the colonial period. The NAC was suppressed in 1959, but was succeeded in 1960 by the Malawi Congress Party, which went to on decisively win the first universal suffrage elections in 1961, and to lead the country to independence as Malawi in 1964.

Chakufwa Chihana was a Malawian human rights activist, pro-democracy advocate, trade unionist and later, politician. He held the post of Second Vice President in Malawi, under President Bakili Muluzi. He is often called the 'father of Malawian democracy'. He served as leader of Malawi's first underground political movement, which urged President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who had ruled for three decades, to call for a referendum on political pluralism. He was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1992.

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Justin Chimera Malewezi was a Malawian politician and a Member of Parliament for Ntchisi North in the Central Region of Malawi. He was Vice-President of Malawi from 1994 to 2004. Malewezi quit the United Democratic Front in 2004 and eventually represented the People's Progressive Movement in the 2004 general election, in which he garnered 2.5% of the total national vote.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cecilia Kadzamira</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orton Chirwa</span> Malawian politician (1919–1992)

Orton Chirwa was a lawyer and political leader in colonial Nyasaland and after independence became Malawi's Minister of Justice and Attorney General. After a dispute with Malawi's autocratic President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, he and his wife Vera were exiled. After being kidnapped abroad they were tried in Malawi on charges of treason and sentenced to death. Amnesty International named the couple prisoners of conscience. After spending nearly eleven years on death row in Malawi, Orton Chirwa died in prison on 20 October 1992.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vera Chirwa</span>

Vera Mlangazua Chirwa is a Malawian born lawyer and human and civil rights activist. She was Malawi's first female lawyer and a founding member of the Malawi Congress Party and the Nyasaland African Women's League. She fought for multiparty democratic rule in Malawi and was charged with treason, tried and sentenced to death by President Kamuzu Banda. She spent 12 years on death row. She was married to lawyer Orton Chirwa, Malawian Minister of Justice and Attorney General, who later died in prison.

Sidik Mia was a Malawian businessman, politician, and Member of Parliament who held various ministerial positions within the Cabinet of Malawi beginning in 2004, serving as Minister of Transport and Public Works since June 2020. He was the Deputy President of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) until his death due to COVID-19 related illness on 12 January 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Malawi. He stood as the vice presidential running mate to Dr. Lazarus Chakwera in the 2019 Malawian general election.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">1964 Malawi cabinet crisis</span>

The cabinet crisis of 1964 in Malawi occurred in August and September 1964 shortly after independence when, after an unresolved confrontation between the Prime Minister, Hastings Banda and the cabinet ministers present on 26 August 1964, three ministers and a parliamentary secretary were dismissed on 7 September. These dismissals were followed by the resignations of three more cabinet ministers and another parliamentary secretary, in sympathy with those dismissed. Initially, this only left the President and one other minister in post, although one of those who had resigned rescinded his resignation within a few hours. The reasons that the ex-ministers put forward for the confrontation and subsequent resignations were the autocratic attitude of Banda, who failed to consult other ministers and kept power in his own hands, his insistence on maintaining diplomatic relations with South Africa and Portugal and a number of domestic austerity measures. It is unclear whether the former ministers intended to remove Banda entirely, to reduce his role to that of a non-executive figurehead or simply to force him to recognise collective cabinet responsibility. Banda seized the initiative, firstly, by dismissing some of the dissidents rather than negotiating, and secondly, by holding a debate on a motion of confidence on 8 and 9 September 1964. As the result of the debate was an overwhelming vote of confidence, Banda declined to reinstate any of the ministers or offer them any other posts, despite the urging of the Governor-General to compromise. After some unrest, and clashes between supporters of the ex-ministers and of Banda, most of the former left Malawi in October with their families and leading supporters, for Zambia or Tanzania. One ex-minister, Henry Chipembere went into hiding inside Malawi and, in February 1965 led a small, unsuccessful armed uprising. After its failure, he was able to arrange for his transfer to the USA. Another ex-minister, Yatuta Chisiza, organised an even smaller incursion from Mozambique in 1967, in which he was killed. Several of the former ministers died in exile or, in the case of Orton Chirwa in a Malawian jail, but some survived to return to Malawi after Banda was deposed and to return to public life.

Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda is a Malawian politician. In 2020 she became Minister of Health in Malawi.

Timothy Mtambo of Chitipa is a Malawian politician and serves as Minister of Civic Education and National Unity in Malawi government since 2020. Prior to active politics, Mtambo was a human rights activist. He is mostly known for the role he played by leading demonstrations against the regime of President Peter Mutharika, accusing the regime of nepotism and corruption. Mtambo also holds the position of Commander in Chief of Citizen for Transformation Movement (CFT).


  1. Wikman, Björn (2012). "The institutionalisation of political parties in Malawi". Lunds University. p. 13. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  2. Manzano, Dulce (9 June 2017). Bringing Down the Educational Wall: Political Regimes, Ideology, and the Expansion of Education. Cambridge University Press. p. 89. ISBN   9781108508681 . Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  3. "President Chakwera meets MCP Diaspora Leaders in London". Nyasa Times.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "MCP Diaspora Network Elects New Commitee: Chalo Mvula becomes new leader". Nyasa Times.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)