Rise Of Political Activism, Malawians are calling for a Federal system of Government

By Lusungu Black Simba, 21st Century Young Federalist

For quite some time Malawi has been riding on hate speeches among people of different ethnic groups such as “this one is Chewa”, “that one is Tumbuka”,  or “you are Lomwe”. On the other hand, people from other regions allege that they have been side-lined on issues of national development. The voting partner also demonstrates that Malawi isn’t a united under the current system,  as people vote based on the region of origin, not merit. Several issues have been coming out like issues to do with quota system of selecting students to the institutions of higher learning and secondary schools.

The question is,  will Malawi continue (58years) to ride on poor,  inherited and failed system that is vulnerable to manipulation? Will Malawians continue to hate one another because they come from different ethnic groups?

Will other people continue to suffer because they voted for a particular party which is in opposition and/or has never been in government?

A solution has to be found to address the situation because Malawi is heading into a civil war that will bring down the already crippled economy.

For history seek, Malawi inherited a political system of government from the British colony in 1964 called Unitary, the system brings the concentration of political power to the central government and very little or no power to the sub-units as the districts.

The central government decides what to give to people in areas of development, education, trade, health etc. On the other hand, the only power given to people is choosing leaders. Once elected to power, they dictate what to give to the people of which region and why? Despite all Malawians being tax payer, yet some suffer because they voted for a political leader who is not in power. Under this system it is difficult to hold them accountable for their misdeeds rather people will just be making noise, crying which never yields any positive results.

Furthermore, there has been an outcry of nepotism, state resources, quota systems and rampant corruption. The question is who hold these people accountable, if they have absolute power; they have the police besides them, they appoint the Director of Anti-Corruption Bureau, they appoint Judges, they appoint Attorney General etc. They are able to get away with it without any trace while Malawians are languishing in acute poverty. To a larger extent the system has brought hate as the development and education policies are meant to benefit and favour people of some regions or districts at the expenses of others. The system has failed Malawians, as it was inherited and is only fit for a nation or society with homogeneous characters not heterogeneous like Malawi. Choosing people into positions is driven by “tribalism” and in the process those qualified for the job are left out due to lack of connections.

It is also sad to note that within the current system the education policy does not favour many as all students are given same examinations with different learning environments and resources. Tell me, “how do you expect one from Mpata community day secondary school with no library, no laboratories compete equally with one from Lilongwe girls with modern facilities, computer laboratory, biology laboratory, chemistry laboratory, as well as a fully stocked library?” This is ridiculous! Uncalled for! and insanity of highest order (it is like putting one without legs on a race among those with full strength and with the feet and expect him/her to compete equally) that is Madness.

It is very unfortunate that the current government has even gone at length of making Chichewa language a compulsory subject in schools. That assassination of other languages which is against the laws of the Republic of Malawi chapter 26 of our constitution which says, “Every Person Shall Have The Right To Use The Language And To Participate In The Cultural Life Of His Or Her Choice”. Making Chichewa language compulsory is sad. Tell me, how do you expect someone born and raised in Managochi with Yao language to compete equally with someone born and raised in Kaliyeka Lilongwe of whom Chichewa is a mother tongue?

Promotion of a certain language at an expense of the other is discrimination which is also against the laws of Malawi. Currently Ngoni culture is vanished, less than 0.001% of people in Mzimba speak Ngoni, Lomwe too disappeared and was resurrected by the late President Bingu Wa Muthalika who became the first patron of the Lomwe culture. During his time of office priority was given to Lomwes and their culture, state resources were spent in promotion of one ethnic group, yet all pay taxes and if the Muthalika’s were given an opportunity to rule another 30 years,  all languages would die.

Now Chakwera (MCP leader) has put forward Chichewa as a national language, yet it is not a national language rather a language spoken by people of a certain tribe in Malawi. We need a solution to address these burning issues.

Federal System of Government is the solution to the issues raised!

One of my arguments for federalism rests upon the ways in which the constitutional form may enhance political accountability and policymaking skills at local levels. Federal constitutions bring government closer to the people insofar as decision making is decentralized, the personal vote (or regional vote) is stronger, and politicians are more beholden to local interests. This means that elective bodies may be more responsive to local needs and concerns, more flexible, and in a certain sense more democratic. Citizens may have greater incentive to involve themselves in the affairs of state where the venue is small enough for the individual citizen to feel empowered. In any case, one can probably assume that local accountability will be higher wherever local (i.e., regional) authorities enjoy greater autonomy.

Another thing is that federalism hinges upon the role of a federal constitution in constraining the growth and intrusiveness of government. Good governance is associated with small government. “One’s view of the role of intergovernmental competition clearly depends on how one views the operation of the public sector more generally.” Big governments have got more disadvantages than advantages: the case of Malawi. Federalism enables a decentralized education system that matches the need and the environment of the area. All religious and cultural values are promoted. We have had conflicts in Machinga district where Muslims wanted schools to allow Muslim girls to wear hijab; Public Affairs Committee (PAC) decision on the matter was misguided as other religions protected.

Our push is to see people of Malawi participate equally and promote unity in diversity. It needs some sober analysis. Federalism is the solution to Malawi, economic growth at the centre not any part of the regionalism push.

Malawi is ripe for Federal system of Government.

We demand it Now!

Article Reproduced with Permission from Lusungu Black Simba

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