Washington Malianga

Washington Malianga

1960 Representative in London and Cairo of NDP.
1961 Secretary General, ZAPU.
1963 Publicity Secretary and founder member, ZANU.

(brother of Moton) was born at the Old Umtali (Mutare) Mission in 1926. He was the third in a family of nine boys and one girl. His father was a primary school teacher and evangelist with the United Methodist Church.

Washington received his primary education at Old Umtali (Mutare) Mission where he passed Standard VII. He then went to St Augustine’s, Penhalonga, where he obtained his junior Certificate. ln order to proceed further with his education it was necessary for him to go to South Africa and he attended Adams College in Natal in 1945 and 1946. He later obtained his Matriculation Exemption by correspondence. He attempted a B.A. degree with the University of South Africa by correspondence, but the death of his father and the need for him to look after his family forced him to abandon the effort after passing a number of courses.

He taught at various primary schools in Southern Rhodesia from 1947 for a number of years. He then obtained a job with an industrial concern in Salisbury (Harare). He soon became interested in trade union affairs and joined the Commercial and Allied Workers’ Union, of which he became Secretary-General and, later, Chairman.

An interest in trade unionism led naturally into political involvement and he was a branch official of the ANCongress from 1957 to 1959. When the Congress was banned Malianga was convicted of a political offence and imprisoned for a year in Salisbury (Harare) Central Prison. When he was released in 1960 he joined the newly-established NDP and was appointed its representative in London. From there he moved to Cairo – again in the role of external representative.

In 1961 he was appointed Secretary-General of ZAPU.1 In this position he was heavily involved in the political unrest which erupted during the next two years. Gradually, however, he became disillusioned with the leadership of Joshua Nkomo, feeling that the objective of ‘majority rule’ was not being advanced by his methods. After the abortive discussions in Dar-es-Salaam in April 1963 he allied himself to the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, and was suspended by Nkomo following the Cold Comfort Farm meeting in August. With the formation of ZANU in the same month he
became Publicity Secretary.

In 1964 it became clear that both ZANU and the PCC (which had replaced ZAPU) would shortly be banned and Malianga left the country to avoid almost certain detention. Later he established his office in Lusaka where he took charge of publicity. In this role he travelled widely in Africa, Asia, South America, North America and Europe and produced a large number of papers on nationalist aims and programmes. He was elected a member of the ZANU hierarchy in Lusaka in 1971 but he resigned two years later because of ill health.

Washington Malianga is a confirmed bachelor, with a great love of music.2 He is well read and an impressive and erudite speaker. Politics are his life, a single-mindedness that probably accounts for a certain moodiness and introspection in his nature.

1 This was formed in December 1961.
2 Like his father, who sang in a fine baritone in the church choir, and whose special favourite was the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.