Malawi: Political Parties and Trades Unions Material

Scope and Content

Constitutions, addresses, manifestos, conference reports, newsletters, letters and miscellaneous election materials from 1961 onwards, issued by the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the National Council for Labour (Malawi) and the Panafrican Democratic Party of Malawi. The majority of the materials held here originate from the MCP and comprise constitutions, party resolutions and speeches outlining and defending Banda's policies of encouraging foreign investment, engagement with the apartheid regime in South Africa and limiting internal dissent. Materials from one of the new parties that emerged during the 1990s, the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), are also held in this collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Malawi, formerly Nyasaland, became independent in 1964 under the government of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led by Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Banda was to rule the country for the next thirty years, presiding over the transition to republic status in 1966 and appointing himself president for life in 1971. Violent protests against the governing party in 1992 following a severe drought led to a referendum the following year which paved the way for the end of one-party rule, and Banda lost the 1994 election to Bakili Muluzi.


Alphabetically by organisation, and then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies


The Political Archives Project was a 2.5 year project to catalogue political archive material held in the libraries of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Institute for the Study of the Americas to the University and present it as a cohesive virtual collection. The project was successfully completed in July 2005. Descriptions of all the documents may be found by searching the library catalogue at, or via the Political Archives website:

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT)

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial History

The ICS political parties collection was begun in 1960-1961, with special emphasis being placed on primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos. Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form.

Related Material

See also Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.

Geographical Names