Shared by Impi Ralph Chienda Ngozo
Remembering the Assassination of the ‘Mwanza Four’ “A tambala awiri salira khola limodzi” and indeed Hon Twayibu Sangala who was nominated to replace Hon John Zenasi Ungapake Tembo, in Dedza, who was by then appointed Governor of the Central Bank, was included on the list to be mercilessly hacked to death. May God continue to forgive all those that took part in the conspiracy in the brutal murders.
“When my mind is free, I write what I see”
The content is not entirely mine, but as someone from Dedza and a Ngoni, Hon Twayibu and Matenje in particular was a big loss to us and Hon Gadama and Chiwanga did not deserve to be killed.
Ba Paliani had asked me in private why the Mwanza Four were eliminated. I am putting it in the public domain so that some other compatriots can add or subtract what I have answered. I find this to be of national importance.
The Mwanza Four incident took place when I had already left Malawi in 1981. These people were killed either under Banda’s orders or under Tembo’s orders. BUT our former President, Dr Bakili Muluzi, reckons that it was under Tembo’s orders.
What I picked up was that there were two issues at stake: Banda wanted to go on a one-year leave and wanted either Mama or Tembo to act. Secondly there was an adverse Auditor General Report against an institution where Tembo was involved.
These two issues were heavily opposed my Ba Aaron Gadama, Ba Dick Matenje and Ba Twiabu Sangal, who were ministers. The fourth person, Ba Chiwanga was just an MP and was caught in crossfire.
The full trial of Banda, Tembo and Mama as respondents at the High Court, has full details of how they were captured and where there were temporary put in Limbe near Auction Floors and the orders to have them killed. ALL key witnesses died one by one.
My brother, Ba Geofrey Kachali, who was the author of the adverse Audit Report as Deputy Auditor General, was poisoned and was hospitalized at Zomba. A government sent doctor was to operate upon him. The move proved to be sinister and so Ba Prof Moses Chirambo stood vigil and did the job of resuscitation him without surgery.
- My brother soon after took up a regional job at ESAMI in Arusha.
- My other brother, Ba late Roy Kachale, was there before.
The Mwnza Four were killed and died b painful deaths as it would appear from their heads were crushed possibly with metal instruments or sledgehammers. The lady South African Pathologist lamented that “their skulls looked like shells of broken eggs”.
On the 18th May 1983, three cabinet ministers and a member of parliament were assassinated by agents of the Malawi Government. These were: Hon. Dick Matenje (MP) the Minister without portfolio and Secretary General of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP); Hon. Aaron Gadama (MP) the Regional Minister for Centre; Hon. Twaibu Sangala (MP) the Minister of Health; and Hon. David Chiwanga (member of parliament for Chikwawa-East).
There are various theories which have over the years emerged to explain why the four would have therefore been eliminated ‘under orders from above’ as it has been alleged.
Others have written that the four were probably killed for internally opposing Dr. Banda’s ‘unpopular’ policies and dictatorship.
It is said that for instance, they had heavily criticized Dr. Kamuzu Banda on the inexorable rising of John Tembo (uncle to Mama Cecilia Kadzamira) in various government positions and the role of Mama Cecilia Kadzamira the State House Official Hostess.
Some sources have also stated that the four had opposed a proposal to amend the constitution to allow a post of a prime minister to be created for John Tembo.
Suffice to say that according to parliamentary records (Hansard) of March 1983, Gadama, Matenje, Sangala and Chiwanga as MPs openly made negative remarks of financial mismanagement and corruption in government during the budget session of Parliament in March 1983.
That particular session of Parliament was presented with a highly critical report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which noted massive overspending by some government departments and irresponsible indebtedness on the part of parastatal companies, some of which were by chaired by Hon. John Tembo.
Dr Banda himself also happened to be the minister responsible for the four ministries in question i.e. Defense, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Justice and External Affairs portfolios.
That budget session was later described by the Supreme Court Judgement on the Mwanza case (delivered on 27th July 1997) as ‘heated, and critical of government.’
Hon. Dick Matenje during a conference abroad
Some writers have argued that this would have probably been viewed as a direct confrontation on Dr Banda the minister responsible for the four ministerial portfolios in question, Hon. John Tembo as the chair of some of the parastatals blacklisted in this regard and above all the then head of the civil service Mr. John Ngwiri.
This particular parliament’s tenure was also coming to an end, and the next one-party parliamentary elections were to be held the following month from 29-30 June 1983. On Kamuzu Day (Dr. Banda’s birthday) the 14th May 1983, Dr. Banda stressed that all leaders had to perform and that nobody’s position was secure.
The Parliament was therefore dissolved at the end of a special session held on 17 May 1983, after which there was to be the presentation of certificates to parliamentary candidates at Kwacha Conference Centre in Blantyre the following day. Actually, Matenje himself as Secretary General of MCP, was scheduled to chair this event.
According to the details provided in Dr. John Lwanda’s (1993) book, Kamuzu Banda of Malawi: A study in Promise, Power and Paralysis, the four were arrested on 17 May 1983 along Zomba-Blantyre road, taken to the Eastern Region Police Headquarters in Zomba and spent a night at Mikuyu Prison.
They were transferred to Blantyre the following day where they were brought first to the MCP sub-head office at Chichiri in Blantyre and later to a special branch office in Limbe.
During the night, reports have it that they were hooded, handcuffed and driven to Mwanza- Thambani back-road which leads south from Mwanza district along the Malawi/Mozambican border, where they were hammered and butchered to death and finally dumped in a blue Peugeot saloon, registration number BF 5343 disguised as if they had perished during a car accident while fleeing the country into Mozambique.
Later, Mr. Geofrey Kachale the then Deputy Auditor General who is reported to have co-authored the Audit Report which was discussed during the heated budget session of Parliament in March 1983, was poisoned, and rushed to Zomba Hospital where he was successfully resuscitated.
That is according to information given by his Harare-based brother Cuthbert Kachale who further told this writer that his Geofrey Kachale, eventually went to exile where he picked up a job at the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI) in Arusha (Tanzania).
In January 1995 under the Bakili Muluzi’s new government, Dr. Banda and his close associates John Tembo and Mama Cecilia Kadzamira and three former police officers were formally charged in the High Court with murder and conspiracy to murder the four politicians.
On the 23 December 1995, the jury found each of the respondents not guilty. Finally, on 31 July 1997, the Supreme Court dismissed all the four grounds of appeal by the state.
The events of May 18 have woven more sinister strands into the national fabric. ”Either the President condoned what happened,” a foreign specialist said, ”or he was unable to prevent it.” Like most people here, the specialist agreed to discuss events only in return for anonymity. Succession a Touchy Topic
The prevalent interpretation of the incident is that the four officials who died on May 18 were somehow embroiled in a factional battle over the extremely sensitive issue of who will succeed Dr. Banda. This is probably the most contentious and potentially hazardous topic in the land, and one that seems to foreshadow bitter political strife after his death.
While it is not a legal offense to discuss the succession, Malawi’s recent history has shown that those mentioned as likely contenders for the presidency have been politically neutralized.
The May 18 killings, the foreign specialist said, may have been the result of ”overzealous” police action ordered to prevent the four officials from seeking refuge after losing the power struggle. Mr. Matenje had been summoned before the President and admonished prior to his death, the specialist said. ”They knew they were being pursued,” the specialist said, ”but the killing was crude and messy.”
The clues as to who may have ordered the police action are diffuse. Several days after the officials’ death, the managing editor of the Government-controlled Daily Times was called to the presidential palace, a Western source said, and, one day later, an editorial appeared that was widely interpreted as an exoneration of the highly influential central bank governor, John Tembo. ‘Official Hostess’ to President
Mr. Tembo is the uncle of Cecilia Kadzamira, whose title is ”official hostess” to the bachelor President. The relationship, by most accounts, has Machiavellian overtones.
”Tembo and Kadzamira controlled what the President sees,” the foreign specialist said. ”Matenje may have been trying to keep things from the President himself so as to strengthen his position against Tembo but lost the battle.”
May the Souls of these men with Honour Continue to Rest in Eternal Peace