Malawi: a political economy

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University of Dar es Salaam
In this essay, we hope to make an attempt at a historical analysis of Malawi's political and economic development from the early colonial days through the maturation of the "Colonial State" to her present day independent status. Throughout this period, that is, during and after the colonial status, our analysis of the facts and figures, there emerges one theme --that of the continued exploitation of Malawi's human and natural wealth by Britain and other imperialist out posts like South Africa and Rhodesia and the relegation of the Malawian economy and its people to perpetual dependency and underdevelopment. In this study, we will approach our subject matter from a political economy point of view which has the advantage of truatiri a country's political and economic issues as one whole rather than as two distinct fields each deserving the expert hand of a political or economic pundit. While the manpower business of the allocation of scarce resources to certain defined ends is certainly the business of economics and its pundits, the defining of such ends is certainly that of the whole society. In other words, this is a study about how Malawi produces its wealth and how such social wealth is distribution Thus, our interest in Malawi's political economy is dictated by intellectual curiosity in order to find out what has gone the pest and , in the tradition of political economy, we are also interested in drawing some lessons from distant and recent past for the benefit of her future course of development. In this sense therefore, neither our intellectual curiosity nor our conclusions thereof as well as that prescriptions for the future development of Malawi will be "value-free". The social scientist who is interested in a society's historical process and who draws conclusions which are critical of what has gone on in the past is wittingly or unwittingly taking .a position against the ruling interests. In short, he is taking an ideological position for or against one social class. However, for the love of money and professional advancement, the modern social scientist has increasingly abnegated his role as society's "intellectual insurgent", who in the past was a thorn in the flesh of the powers-that-be and was thus constantly persecuted. .And in the case of Malawi, the social scientist, be he indigenous or foreign, finds himself being persecuted in diverse ways, none of which have anything to do with "intellectual insurgency". This is because the present regime in Malawi is an absolute dictatorship which has imposed strict censorship regulations on anything, published in or outside Malawi as well as imposing severe restrictions on access to research material and in certain cases, important documents have been burned. In terms of literature therefore, particularly with regard to the post-independence period with which this essay will concern itself most, the reader will boar with me that apart from dry government publications, there isn't a single independent or scholarly text on Malawi that own could confidently draw upon. It is in the nature of all dictatorships that they allow neither political nor academic freedom but are bent on destroying all initiative. In the academic field, only those intellectuals who are mad for money or them odiocros get attracted to Malawi. Hone or these can be expected to produce any scholarly work such as is the case in say Tanzania or even Zambia and Kenya. But somehow, there seems to be an imperialist, conspiracy of silence on the events in Malawi, for even journalist will avoid publishing an assassination attempt on the life of Dr. Banda, although they will sensationalize the most trivial happenings in say Tanzania or Zambia. The obvious must accordingly be stated that if the researcher finds it extremely difficult to find access to soured material in Malawi, the problem is compounded when one has to do so from sources outside Malawi. tie have already made reference to the "conspiracy of silence" on events in Malawi and this seems to pervade even in the publication of official documents. This is as it should be, as although Malawi has been independent for ten years now, most of the key positions in Government are still manned by British and south African personnel rho have justifiable cause for withholding the publication of all or most of the "facts" about Malawi. This is amply evident when one compares the official publications and reports of the "colonial state" and those of the "independent state" of Malawi. There is more "objectivity- in the one as well as more facts, but more deception and fewer facts in the other. And this has nothing to do with a "fall" in the standards arisen from too rapid Africanization as Malawi was spared this "curse" through President Oanda's consistent refusal to ''Africanize for Africanisation's sake." The people who are compiling all the deceptively voluminous but virtually empty reports are about the same as those that made the colonial reports. Our task thus has been made somewhat simpler in that we will be free to interpret the scanty facts and make conclusions as we deem fit.
Available in print form, EAF collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, class mark ( THS EAF JA77.M2M8)
Malawi, Politics and Government, Economic conditions
Mwakasungura, A.K ( 1975 ) Malawi : a political economy, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.