The shift of the Malawi’s Capital from Zomba to Lilongwe was not only documented but was also on the lips of the “praise – singers” during the single party Malawi. The lyrics went “Yasamutsa likulu kuchokera ku Zomba kukamanga Lilongwe indee, indee, Ngwazi yathu indee” (He has transferred the Capital from Zomba to Lilongwe, indeed our Hero).
The first Prime Minister for Malawi announced his plan to shift the capital from the colonial administrative town of Zomba to Lilongwe during one of the parliamentary sessions of the last week of October in 1964.
The plan of moving the capital to Lilongwe had been rejected by Malawi’s colonial master Britain, as Britain regarded Blantyre a better option since it was almost developed and had necessary infrastructure. That meant Britain had declined financing the ambitious project.
This made Dr. Hastings Banda draw himself closer to apartheid South Africa which was willing to fund the project. Malawi became the only African nation to have trade and diplomatic ties with South Africa. Dr Kamuzu Banda would be heard in one parliamentary address that if he did not find money to build his Capital he would ask money from the devil (meaning South Africa)
While announcing the change of the capital, he cited the following reasons for the choice of Lilongwe, its central position in Malawi, its nearness to lake Malawi, the abundance of rich agricultural land in the surrounding districts and its convenience to air routes connecting Malawi to Dar– es –salaam, Lusaka and Salisbury (now Harare) and that he wished to spread development across the country.
Dr. Kamuzu Banda bragged that this plan was part of a developmental program hatched while he was in Gweru Prison and he called it the Gweru Plan.
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