1960-61 Vice-President, NDP.
1962 Founder Member and Secretary for Public Affairs, ZAPU.
1963 External Representative, ZANU (Cairo).
1964 Secretary for Youth and Culture, ZANU.
1974 Member Central Committee, ANC.
1975 (Sept.) National Chairman, ANC (Muzorewa).
Moton Malianga (brother of Washington) was born on 8 June 1930 at Old Umtali (Mutare) Mission (the fifth child in a family of nine boys and one girl). His father, Paul Malianga, was a teacher and evangelist and at one time the editor of the Methodist Church paper now called Umbowo. His mother was one of twin royal sisters; her sister was killed in accordance with the then prevailing custom but Moton’s mother escaped death through the courage of a relative who ran away with her.
Malianga attended St Francis Xavier College, Kutama, where he completed his primary education in 1947. For his secondary education he later went to Khaiso Secondary School, Adams College and Ohlange Institute in South Africa, gaining his Matriculation Certificate in 1953. After leaving school he worked as a clerk in a department store in South Africa, and in 1955 was promoted to manager. In 1957 he obtained a professional certificate in accountancy, ASCA (SA).
While in South Africa he became closely involved with the S.A. African National Congress. His activities came to the notice of the police and in 1957 he judged it advisable to return home to Rhodesia. He took a teaching post in Highfield and also became organising secretary of a cultural organisation, the Rujeko Club. However, by this time his main interest lay in politics and he joined the ANCongress in 1958.
Following the detention of the ANCongress leaders in February 1959 he decided to give up teaching and devote his full time to politics. The banning of the ANCongress and the detention of its leaders had left a vacuum in African nationalist politics and Malianga consulted with a number of friends (including W. D. Musarurwa, Michael Mawema, Sketchley Samkange and George Silundika) on the question of forming another political party. After several weeks consultation it was decided to form the NDP in which Malianga became Vice-President at the first Congress in November 1960.
Throughout 1960 and 1961 Malianga travelled extensively in western and eastern Europe as well as in the Middle East and Africa, canvassing “for moral and material support for the cause of majority rule in Rhodesia, lecturing on the Rhodesian political situation,and attending conferences” During 1960 he went to London as leader of an NDP delegation to protest against the proposed removal of the entrenched clauses in the Southern Rhodesian 1923 Constitution. The delegation demanded that Britain convene a constitutional conference for the purpose of giving legislative power to the African people.
In February 1961 Malianga strongly opposed the constitutional proposals which emanated from the conference held in Salisbury (Harare) under the chairmanship of Duncan Sandys. Together with J.Z. Moyo and Robert Mugabe he piloted the rejection of these proposals through the national executive of the NDP in March. In April of the same year he was a member of the NDP delegation which protested to Lord Home, then Commonwealth Secretary, on the proposed constitution for Southern Rhodesia.
Although Malianga was sentenced in 1960 to 10 months’ imprisonment (or a £75 fine) for making subversive statements,1 it was not until December 1961 that he became almost continually at odds with the authorities. When the NDP was proscribed2 he was banned from attending any political gathering and from entering the Tribal Trust Lands. In the following year (1962) he was arrested and brought to trial at Inkomo Military Camp after leading a 10-mile (16 km) march from Mabvuku Township to Salisbury (Harare) to protest against the arrest of certain NDP leaders and against the delay in bringing about political changes. He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for sedition (a sentence which, on appeal, was reduced to two years, with one year suspended).
Although Malianga had been appointed Secretary for Public Affairs in ZAPU before his committal to prison in 1962, he was already moving away from support of Joshua Nkomo. On his release from jail the following year he found that a deep split had developed in the nationalist ranks. At this stage his opposition to Nkomo came out into the open and he was suspended by Nkomo in July 1963.3 He joined ZANU on its formation in August and was appointed External Representative for the party, with headquarters in Cairo. From there he travelled widely, putting across the African nationalists’ case and soliciting moral and material aid. He also edited a journal, Zimbabwe News, for distribution especially among diplomatic missions.
During his absence he was elected ZANU Secretary for Youth and Culture at the congress in early 1964. However, by the time he returned to Salisbury (Harare) in September of that year most of the leaders of the nationalist movement had been arrested and the party banned. Malianga himself was arrested within two weeks of his return and sent initially to Wha Wha on a five-year restriction order. He was later transferred to the Sikombela Restriction Area. In late 1965 he was detained in the Salisbury (Harare) maximum security prison where he remained until his release in December 1974. He was, however, a member of the ZANU delegations to Arthur Bottomley, Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, at New Sarum Airport in 1965, and to Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister, at Government House, Salisbury (Harare), shortly before UDI.
During his period in prison Malianga studied by correspondence with the University of South Africa, graduating B.Com. in 1971. He then decided to study law and passed 15 of the 18 courses required for his degree.
After his release from detention he was flown to Lusaka where he participated in the discussions leading up to the unification of all the nationalist groups under the banner of the ANC. He was appointed a member of the Central Committee and Chairman of the Committee to prepare for the congress.
He was a member of the ANC negotiating team at the Victoria Falls talks in August 1975. After the split in the nationalist ranks in September he was appointed National Chairman of the Muzorewa section of the ANC and was to have presided at the Muzorewa congress called for 26 October4
On 26 April 1976 Moton Malianga (together with other officials) was found guilty in Sinoia (Chinhoyi) Magistrate’s Court of addressing an unlawful public meeting at St Peter’s Church Hall. He was fined $40. On 15 October it was announced that he would attend the Geneva Conference as a delegate from the ANC (Muzorewa).
Moton Malianga is not a believer in what he calls “unfettered capitalism”, since he feels that it contains too many opportunities for exploitation. On the other hand, uncontrolled socialism may lead to “laziness and hand-outs”. He would like to see a society that combines the best features of both systems and that preserves “those values of African culture that we must continue to preserve”. He says that the important thing is to work out a system that suits this country and its peculiar conditions and not to try to suit this country to a particular system. He believes in immediate “smooth change” but maintains that the Whites have failed to play their part in bringing this about. He does not believe in safeguards for minority groups, stating that these would only bring such groups into clear focus and expose them to animosity. He foresees an amalgam of the old African social values and the new culture introduced by the white man.5
Moton Malianga is round-faced and chubby, with the self-confident demeanour of a man who knows where he wants to go. As a politician he is adept at changing his approach to suit his audience; in front of a group of young militants his harsh extremism contrasts baldly with the quiet rationality which he displays in a relaxed discussion with one or two people. His private interests lie in reading, particularly books and magazines on scientific subjects. In his younger days he used to play a lot of tennis and table-tennis, “but can hardly find time to play them now”.
1 His trial started in Salisbury (Harare) but was later transferred to Inkomo Military Camp to avoid the crowds that gathered outside the court.
2 December 1961.
3 See entry on Joseph Msika for details.
4 The meeting was, in fact, cancelled because a very large number of supporters arrived at Gwanzura Stadium, far exceeding the number of official delegates for whom police permission had been granted
5 Interview with D.M.M.