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Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP)

The effects of decolonization in Africa prompted President Banda to organize separate armed entity to protect him from being ousted from power. Decolonization in Africa largely flourished after World War II, and most African countries inherited multiparty system of governance, which mutated into either authoritarian military rule or one-party systems, many of which underwent incapacitating civil wars. Decolonization in Africa was also characterized by political instability and military coups; hence Bandas reign was vulnerable.

This vulnerability led Banda to create a more robust and loyal armed wing of the ruling party for the maintenance of the regime. Banda built two parallel armed organizations the military and the MYP and favored the MYP after realization that the military would not serve his domestic political interests. South Africa underwrote and trained the red-shirted Young Pioneers, a paramilitary youth group that spied on citizens and terrorized dissidents.

The MYP was established in 1963 as an organization to spearhead economic development, particularly agriculture. It long has been suspected of having a paramilitary element. The MYP maintained an air detachment as well as a Presidential Guard of about 100. MYP training, however, incorporated heavy doses of military discipline and indoctrination.

By 1990 personnel strength was estimated at 600 with military training. The program continued to process approximately 3,000 youths each year: Altogether about 60,000 youths had been trained at 23 bases throughout the country. The role of the MYP was reduced in 1981 after former head of the MYP Guanda Chakuamba Phiri was arrested and put on trial for gross breach of party disciphne. Phiri's crime appears to have been the accumulation of too much power. It is unlikely that Phiri accumulated this power to pose a threat to the Life President. Rather, he was probably preparing for the power struggle that was expected to follow Banda's death.

Since the Malawi Army had taken over the naval detachment and had its own air wing, the military significance of the MYP in relation to the police and Army had been reduced.

On 01 December 1993, members of the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) shot and killed two enlisted members of the MDF over disagreements at a local bar in Mzuzua major city in the northern region of the country. The incident marked the immediate cause of the rebellion of the enlisted personnel in Malawi. The matter was immediately reported to Moyale Barracks, which is located within Mzuzu City. Accordingly, the defense force headquarters in the capital city of Lilongwe was informed, and soldiers an all barracks throughout the country keenly waited for immediate response from the generals. Without orders or leadership from the officers corps, the enlisted personnel took up arms and ammunition and started the fight against the MYP bases in Mzuzu and the northern region as a whole. All the MYP bases and camps throughout the country were captured and, within a week of sustained fire, the MYP bases were demolished, weapons and equipment captured.

Approximately 2000 MYP members are believed to have fled into Mozambique with their firearms,while twenty-five members of the MYP and four regular military soldiers lost their lives. The MYP also suffered 123 casualties.4 The rest of the members of the MYP surrendered and were allowed to peacefully integrate with the general population.





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