Malawi Independent, since 1964
Domestic Policy . . . In 1964, Malawi proclaimed independence. In 1966 the constitution of a republic was adopted. As the country's first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda was elected (-1994). His rule turned authoritarian; still as p.m., in the September 1964 Cabinet Crisis he broke with several cabinet ministers. Factually, Malawi was a one-party-state; in the 1966 elections the ruling party candidates ran unopposed. In 1971 the elections were cancelled by president Kamuzu Banda, who simply appointed the members of parliament and assumed presidency for life.
1965 and 1967 rebellions were suppressed. In 1975 the nation's capital was moved from Zomba to Lilongwe.
Dr. Banda is described as one of Africa's few conservative politicians in that period. Many white settlers remained in the country; their representation in parliament, until 1973, was guaranteed by a representative appointed by the president. Malawi entertained good relations with South Africa.
The economy . . . Economic policy of independent Malawi focussed on the improvement of the infrastructure, the development of the nation's education system, on developing agriculture. Malawi did not enter any experiments in the direction of establishing a socialist society. However, an economic Africanization policy targeted Malawi's Asian minority (of c. 12,000), which controlled many of the nation's businesses. A 1978 law limited their residence to urban areas.
Political turmoil in neighbouring Moçambique caused the influx of refugees; the closure of the border with Moçambique had a serious impact on landlocked Malawi.
Upon independence in 1964, Malawi had a population of 3.79 million; a 1977 census counted 5.54 million, by 1998 the figure reached 10.5 million (Lahmeyer), the estimated figure for 2009 is 15.9 million (Wikipedia); an almost 3-fold increase since independence. In 2005 Malawi proclaimed a national disaster - the Malawian Food Crisis, still ongoing.
Foreign Policy . . . Malawi entertained good relations with South Africa and Taiwan and received foreign aid from many western nations as well as Taiwan. Malawi's reluctance to join the proposed African boycott of Apartheid South Africa resulted in the deterioration of her relations with neighbouring African nations, Zambia, Tanzania, and, since 1975, Moçambique.
The war for independence and the succeedinf civil war in Moçambique had an impact on the landlocked nation, as her supply lines through Mocambique were jeopardized, a refugee problem emerged and the combattants at times violated her borders.
Since 1975 Malawi was surrounded by states hostile to the South African Apartheid regime; the small nation of Malawi, however, did not alter her South Africa policy.
Recent Developments . . . Malawi is a multiethnic state where a number of languages are spoken, Chichewa, Lomwe, Yao, Sena. The government promotes the use of Chichewa as language of administration and education. In addition, English is spoken.
In a referendum in 1993, multiparty democracy was introduced. A year later, Banda was voted out of office.