General elections were held for the Legislative Council in Nyasaland in August 1961. The result was a victory for the Malawi Congress Party, which won all 20 lower roll seats (in five of which they were unopposed)[1] and two of the eight higher roll seats.

Electoral system

There were two voter rolls, a lower roll with a predominantly African electorate, which elected 20 members, and had 106,095 registered voters, and a higher roll of largely European and Asian electors, which elected eight members, with 4,337 registered voters. As five constituencies in the lower roll were uncontested, only 75,707 voters were eligible on election day.[2] All members were elected from single-member constituencies, which largely followed the same boundaries as the country's districts.

District Lower roll electorate Lower roll constituency Higher roll electorate Higher roll constituency
Karonga 5,266 Karonga 32 Northern Province
Mzimba 13,802 Mzimba North
Mzimba South
Nkata Bay 5,643 Nkata Bay 30
Rumpi 3,597 Rumpi 28
Dedza 5,741 Dedza 82 Central Districts
Dowa 6,467 Dowa 82
Fort Manning 4,087 Kasungu Fort Manning 23
Kasungu 4,012 25
Kota Kota 4,285 Kota Kota 25
Ncheu 4,368 Ncheu 43
Lilongwe 9,649 Lilongwe North
Lilongwe South
485 Central Districts
Lilongwe Town
Blantyre 4,065 Blantyre Urban 2,036 Blantyre
8,072 Blantre Rural
Chikwawa 2,638 Lower River 28 Southern Districts
Port Herald 1,949 47
Cholo 4,754 Cholo 295
Mlanje 7,654 Mlanje 191
Fort Johnston 2,253 Fort Johnston Kasupe 48 Shire North
Kasupe 2,150 22
Zomba 5,643 Zomba 522
Total 106,095 4,337
Source: Constituencies Commission[3]


PartyLower RollUpper RollTotal
Malawi Congress Party71,65998.792038510.34222
United Federal Party6070.8402,10856.5955
Christian Liberation Party2720.3700
Registered voters/turnout75,7074,337
Source: Nohlen et al.


Before the elections, the Colonial Office had assumed that the Malawi Congress Party would be entitled to three Executive Council seats through winning a majority of the lower roll seats. As the Lancaster House agreement provided that two Executive Council seats would go to ministers elected from the higher roll, it was thought that the mainly white United Federal Party would gain both these seats. In the event, the United Federal Party only won five seats, two going to Congress and one to a Congress-inclined independent, Colin Cameron. The Governor offered the United Federal Party a single Executive Council seat, which it refused. This left all five elected Executive Council seats available for Congress candidates.[4]



  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Michael Krennerich & Bernhard Thibaut (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p558 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  2. ^ Nohlen et al, p558
  3. ^ Nyasaland Legislative Council Elections, 1961: Report of the Constituencies Commission Constituencies Commission, pp9-12
  4. ^ J McCracken (2012) A History of Malawi, 1859–1966 Woodbridge, James Currey, pp381–52, 403–4, ISBN 978-1-84701-050-6