The Assassination of Dr. Attati Mpakati, 35 Years Ago

A reflection article by Paliani Chinguwo.

Mpakati photo

It is now exactly marks 35 years after the assassination of one of the greatest heroes of Malawi and Africa at large, a progressive scholar, political leader and martyr by the name of *Dr. Attati Mpakati* .

Perhaps a brief contextual background would be necessary before zeroing in to portray what really Dr. Attati Mpakati represents in the history of Malawi, for the sake of those hearing his name for the first time.

In the wake of Cabinet Crisis of 1964, soon after the dismissals and resignations of ministers from cabinet, the Prime Minister Dr Banda summoned an emergency sitting of Parliament in Zomba from the 8 and 9 September 1964 during which he received an overwhelming vote of confidence.

Ordinary Malawians were taken by surprise to hear the former cabinet ministers, whom Dr Banda had fondly referred to as ‘my boys’, being called ‘wild animals’ who needed to be ‘destroyed at all costs’

The vote of no confidence in Parliament was immediately followed by some unrest and clashes between supporters of the ex-ministers and the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) in the capital city Zomba and other parts of the country.

Subsequently the ‘rebel’ ministers and their sympathisers, were hunted down by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) youth and Malawi Young Pioneer (MYP) wing. As such they had to flee for their lives to Tanzania and Zambia.

In response to this, several political parties were founded by exiled Malawians to oppose the dictatorial regime of Dr. Banda having consolidated his grip on Malawi soon after the cabinet crisis of 1964.

One of these political parties was the *Socialist League of Malawi (LESOMA)* founded in 1974 which emerged to be the most vibrant opposition political which had managed to clandestinely establish branches and recruit thousands of members across Malawi including employees in the civil service, university and even the MCP rank and file.

For nine years, Dr. Attati Mpakati was the able and popular leader of LESOMA until his assassination by Dr. Banda’s agents in Harare on 23rd March 1983.

Dr Attati Mpakati was on his way from Maputo to visit his family in Sweden via Harare. According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), he was abducted on the 23 March 1983 right from his lodging room at Park Lane Hotel.

The ZRP eventually reported that according to the postmortem report, Dr Attati Mpakati had died of gunshot wounds and his dead body was found dumped in a ditch opposite the Park Lane Hotel.

According to a Malawian social commentator based in Harare called Mzee Cuthbert Kachale, Dr. Attati Mpakati is buried at Warren Hills Cemetery, Grave number 337 E in Harare.

Kachale@Mpakati grave

Mzee Cuthbert Kachale who has visited the grave a number of times, further reveals that sadly, Dr. Attati Mpakati’s grave has no tombstone nor epitaph, not even his name written there for people to get to know ho was laid to rest at that spot.

Does this befit the status of a national hero and marty?

Is it not ironic that Dr Banda who actually ordered the brutal murder of Dr Attati Mpakati and other great sons and daughters of Malawi, is singularly honoured with a state of the art Mausoleum at his grave?

Dr. Attati Mpakati had previously survived a letter bomb attack in February 1979 in Maputo which crippled both of his hands.

In an open letter to Dr. Banda after this failed assassination attempt, he told Dr. Banda that it was a waste of time spending the country’s resources trying to kill him.

He stressed that the people were still going to oppose him whether he, Mpakati, lived or died, and democracy & justice were then on the agenda for the future of Malawi.