Federalism: Necessary antidote to eliminate cliquey leaderships in Malawi

It is argued that there exists an antithesis for every thesis that exists in the world. It follows that the calls for a federal system has attracted a fair amount of assertions and counter-assertions. Arguments abound in scrutiny and trivialization of the emerging transformative alliances purveying a federal system in Malawi; I find myself overwhelmed by the temptation to add my voice in support of a groundswell of reasoned calls for a new political framework that permits the formation of subnational governments.

There is asure-fire justification for calls to devolve the state to make it manageable and accountable. The rationale for taking such a stand is drawn from a grossly bungled multiparty democracy which has ushered in a fusion of political and executive regiments, wherein, individualities are masterminded by inward looking values of self-glorification and domination.

Chief Chikulamayembe meeting  presidential advisor Vuwa Kaunda on federal state agenda

Chief Chikulamayembe meeting presidential advisor Vuwa Kaunda on federal state agenda

Beyond human uncouthness is utter governmental averageness caused by constitutional fluffiness which has contributed to the creation of a luxuriant landscape for rationalising politics of nepotism, regionalism and tribalism.

It makes sense to me that an overhaul of the governing structure is needed to tame presidential powers and create equilibrium in the distribution of state capitals. Therefore, I find the emerging civil movement, canvassing for regionally devolved executive and legislative powers, an essential and well-timed alliance to challenge contemporary administrative and political dysfunctions characterized by corruption, mismanagement, unaccountability, exclusion, nepotism, tribalism and inequity. Surely, a reformist debate on the subject matter is long overdue.

I have approached the idea of federalism with caution given that the nation is drawn against the background of ethnic lines. Having learnt how dizzied and dazed politicians become with power, there is the likelihood for misinforming the public coupled with an inherent risk to escalate an insular gulf through the proposed regionalized powers.

Whilst I agree that this arrangement is purely to aid equitable distribution of state capitals, I have this feeling that it will be a monumental effort to educate the masses, cut across the tribally divided electoral course and unite the nation under the spirit of loyalty to statehood principles.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that there is a major premise for pursuing the ideal of federalism as a necessary antidote to starve off egoistical extremes of cliquey political leaderships. Contrary to the conflicting assertions by some misguided politicians and traditional leaders, it is worth noting that the creation of regional governments as subsets of central government will enhance information revelation, local bargaining power and accountability.

Democracy in Malawi has lessons in abundance. One experience stands out for me is that the current political system is established on a foundation which is deprived of moral philosophy. I do not need to say much about the political context that lacks ideological perspectives. I feel every Jim and Jack would wake up one day having formed a new party out of the blue; typical of briefcase parties whose objectives are to capitalise on the inept electoral body and prioritise actions that exploit societal deficits for self-importance.

The house of commotion (parliament) remains a conduit for waning moral responsibility and barefaced deceit.  I can’t stand the conscious and subliminal political prostituting that characterise the legislative house in the aftermath of every electoral process.

So let the political metamorphosis, as constituted in the demands for federalism, be my launch pad for a literal tirade in support of a new governmental structure that resonates beyond politics of “tribal interests” It’s time to think beyond just conducting periodic elections and seek to replace the current governing structure with a distributed federalism.

That time to reduce the basic and sovereign units of the state so as to pave way for the citizen’s influence over it. It is the value of localism contained in the federal system which has capacity to offer the proper outlet for the future of Malawi.

The most regressive development sticking out of the current politicking is the regional clampdown on meritocracy under the pretext of promoting equality of educational opportunity. It smacks of an inner circle in the governmental structure whose agenda is to fuel discriminatory and tribalistic practices in the country.

I argue that any political system that curbs meritocracy is guilty of negating its obligation to advocate a unitary belief of one nation and one people. It becomes an impediment to its own socio-economic development initiatives because of its phoney policy of containing individual skills and talent; all this under ill-advised and skew whiff belief of equitably reordering ability across the tribal divide.

It is one of those developments that make one think that, actually, the current political system is anathema to the idea of democracy. It suffices to say that the current political system has failed to unite the country. Instead, it is fuelling tribal divisions and creating a chain of materialistic leaderships currently enjoying unjustified praise from bootlickers and tribal enthusiasts.

There comes a time when the political system needs to be subjected to an arduous contest to prove its praiseworthiness. Such a challenge emanates from the hearts and minds of the disillusioned, those who feel pushed to the margins of governance and have nothing to lose but make individual sacrifices for the benefits they would never live to revel in.

It is about time a new basis for a transformative civil disobedience is configured to save the country from breaking further into feuding tribal combatants. Not long ago, we witnessed tripartite elections that produced results that, yet again, exposed a voting pattern under propped by regional and tribal undercurrents.

Of course, notwithstanding electoral results cooked from figures which were monkeyed with and the legal hullaballoo that ensued with a concluding constitutional perspective offered by the judiciary. The point I am alluding to, albeit fraudulent statistical results, is that it would be pointless to envisage that a referendum may well produce results to the contrary. The learning curve from these periodic elections is that the country is polarised along regional lines such that tribalism and nepotism have become entrenched in the employment processes.

As other analysts have argued in support of the idea, I feel there are sufficient grounds to rekindle the wheels of change and fuel a civil contest against the present-day socio-political goings-on in order to safeguard the integrity of the hard won multiparty democracy. However, for the emerging reformist idea to translate into a reality, it will require the creation of a unified front to take on an authentic and informed political dialogue.

It will require robust civic guidance to counter attempts by the present powers seeking to advance arguments of ignorance and scare mongering aimed at deliberately misleading the masses. We only need to draw out lessons from how arguments to defend the then one party system were played against those who promulgated the change to multiparty democracy.

Besides changing the governing framework, we also need to consider how political-party behaviour can be managed as this has been the root cause of poor leaderships in Malawi. There is the likelihood that political party behaviour will remain a retrogressive thorn in the proposed federal arrangement.

All in all, it is about time to unshackle the country from this self-serving political brouhaha as I feel we can no longer take sanctuary in a democracy played by constitutionally sanctioned electoral incompetence. We need to adopt a radical stance in order to realise a political system premised on the principles of equity, equality, social justice and moral integrity. No doubt, it is no time for politics as usual but advocate for the state structure founded on the building blocks of governance that are self-cleaning and progressive.

We have to fight for a political arrangement underpinned by ideals of prudence, dignity and altruism. And that the political framework must be self-sufficient in democratically seeking to yield leadership that sustains the sacrosanctity of social and economic impartiality for all in spite of the tribal and regional divide. We should seek to appoint governmental headships whose visionary lenses outdo clannish boundaries and expedite the formation of collectively merited governance cutting across the partisan divide with a sole decree of civilly prioritising national safeties.

It sounds like wishful thinking to envisage that such standards are achievable, given that, the gridlock in our political framework is man’s lack of rectitude and downright tendency to yield to unorthodox entrapments synonymous with actualities of absolute power.

With the will of those driven by the values of patriotism and selflessness, it makes sense to explore progressive routes of governing the country whilst seeking to unite the people within the context of democratic integrity.

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45 thoughts on “Federalism: Necessary antidote to eliminate cliquey leaderships in Malawi”

  1. Grecium says:

    The more I read the more confused I become but the more I crave for more to read.Credits are due to this articulate,intelligent,and well versed author.He has tackled a spectrum of issues,well presented but require a magnified mind to understand.I have enjoyed every phrase more especially the words used to bring a point home.I may not be a fedo fan but have enjoyed reading.Looking forward to more topical issues.

  2. PHWALA KU NYINI says:


  3. patriot says:

    The guy has failed to communicate

  4. Chebokosi says:

    Pamene ena akuti sanatolepo ena atolapo mfundo. Ndiye uziziwe kuti chizungu chimakuvuta.

  5. spot on says:

    Ma Nhlane,that is a nice piece,now all the ruling tribe enthusiasists will deny this,we want federalism,federalism woyeee,Ma Nhlane woyeeeee,Ngalonde woyeee,thindabathole woyeeeee,

  6. MNYANJA says:


  7. Sinthani says:

    Federation will not solve anything if we don’t transform our political landscape. We have too much sleepy and incompetent politicians. What they do in parliament nobody knows. Every year, they go to parliament to approve budgets but not asking where are the related plans and where to implement the projects so that each vote is passed in accordance with national priorities. Secondly, they do not start with a reflection and review on how government spent funds during the previous year in line with the plans of that year. All these cries we see now are the fruits of having an incompetent parliament full of people who does know anything. Even if federation is accepted, districts will start crying on how the provincial or regional government ahs spent money. Just watching! The problem will not end.

    1. kanchenga says:

      The funny thing is how fully awake citizens would wake up very early to go and elect a sleepy and incompetent parliament. But you are right. Federation will not solve the problems as presented by our brothers from the north. It will only legalise the quota system. That is if the regional governments will control education and other social services. Surely the regional government in the centre will not allow students from other regions to suffocate their schools while their own have no places. Remember the Chewa will rather have a half baked graduate than no graduate at all. After all being farmers they need few specialists to run research work and the lest will be technical officers. The problem with our politics is not the system we are using now. The problem was our failure to define national development. We told our uneducated that development means building schools, clinics, small bridges etc… This is wrong. Assuming that we have all these social aminities available including our shaky economy. Where do you think the money to run these things would come from. But may be the major problem is that the focus of the citizen during elections will be “who did the most development using their money as described above” . As they decide they do not ask where the money he used came from. So we have ended up with thieves who would like to recover their investments through misappropriation of government funds. Apparently the thieves have formed syndicates called parties. They use these to steal. However the north has realised that because of numbers their syndicate stands no chance. Hence call for federal system.

  8. Central says:

    Za manyaziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Vuwa and Chikulamajembe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kudziikamo too much, mwaphwa ngati chubu cha njinga mwaonaaaaaaaaaaaaaatuuuuuuuuuuu!!! Osamangodya zimtuwitsa za APM zo bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? Sindinaonenso mbuzi za a tsogoleriiiiiiiiiii ngati iziiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Manda says:

    Minister of Education, Emmanuel Fabiano, is the main Architect of Bingu’s and Peter’s Quota System. His speech during his last graduation as Vice Chancellor of University of Malawi testifies to this. He said openly that he is for quota system. No wonder he has been rewarded with a ministerial post. But let him know that it is a mission in vein. The north will always find places for its students elsewhere as he ages and rewards laziness. I still don’t understand the justification for this evil quota system. What advantage do students from the north have over those from Cholo? or Chilazulu? phalombe? mulanje? Is he really fit to be Minister with such a divisive policy or else he is only minister for Cholo, Chilazulu, Phalombe and Mulanje? Bravo Federalism, I support it fully. Actually the whole federalism debase is primarily fueled by Quota system. I used to love a united Malawi under Kamuzu and Bakili.

    1. Wezi says:

      If Fabiano said this, let him know that he personally in his personal choice drew battle lines with the northern region since the was touching the heart of the northerners.. Now that he is a Minister of education, do we expect anything good from him? In turn does he expect us to have anything to do with him?
      If only he said this publicly he rejected the north publicly and the consequences are anybody’s guess

      1. kanchenga says:

        Unfortunately clever as you sound, you have just rewarded him with more voice in parliament by electing a dpp mp in the just ended Mzimba north by election. Educated fools talking too much and doing nothing about it. Bolaniso MCHEWA was nyau. Kuzolowera ukapolo nmakampani ndi m boma

  10. Kadushu says:

    Look at the speakers at the well organised debate, they are all from the North, will this change anything at all. regionalism at its best mungowonongapo nthawi yanu apa. because the debate is not inclusive of other regions, does this means only the Northern people are the ones understanding federalism not in other region? please if you want to make this a national issue spread your wings to other regions other wise this is just a TALK SHOW for us to know who is the best educationist.

    1. dadaboma says:

      My brother, ask Bingu, APM or Fabiano which region was targeted by the quota system. The north is suffering; the north must talk; the north must act now. Which region has one of its sec schools filled only by pupils from other regions and not a single pupil from that region? My friend, if you were near me I would spit on your face rightaway. I ask teachers of N/Bay sec school to stop teaching and relocate to other schools immediately. That school will soon be on fire – we are its custodians but not its beneficiary and we now want to turn it back to farmland as it sits on the land of our forefathers and we gave that land to a school so that our children can get education and that education has been stolen away by Bingu, APM & Fabiano.

      1. jessy mtila banda says:

        brother, this was not about any region being targeted, its about sharing the little resources equally. the problem with northners is that they are greedy, they want everything that is for malawi to be theirs

  11. Tsamba Likagwa says:

    Ife taona anthu akuchoka paukwati atatutwana kenako kubwerela yekha kuzapepesa kuti mkazi wanga ndikhulululike sindimadziwa chimene ndimachita please ndilole tibwelerane. nanga anawa alera ndani. Ndiye izi mwayambazi. Tiye nazoni.

  12. dadaboma says:

    To most you have mumbled like APM, and on their behalf I can only ask as Getrude does to her huby: what did you say? Come again? What sir? Pardon me? Mwati bwanji? Sin’namve? Pls write to communicate.

  13. wisestfool says:

    Kupusa basi!!

  14. jacoblale22 says:

    I did not even read beyond the third paragraph, using a dictionary to write and pick big words that don’t even make sense in the context, is a sign of self doubt and a waste of other peoples time. the owners of the language in England do not do that. if you were my student, you would get as below! no wonder you are supporting federalism

    1. Redeemed says:

      Eddie Murphy was quite right in the movie called “Coming to America”, Believe it or not, but I understand whites better than the so called African American/Black Americans”.

      1. Inu says:

        Yes unbelievable. There is false assumption among some writers that if youe want to impress you have to use big words. Such kind of people need to learn again simple steps in communication. you convince other by what you are putting across, i.e, the content and not the big words. If one needs a dictionary to understand what you are saying, then it means you have failed to communicate. This article falls into that category

  15. For me, I dont care where a university is built provided it benefits students from all districts. So stop quacking about where a university is built.

  16. The North should take the cessation path in order for Malawi to stop hearing of quota system. With that they will be sending their students to Mzuni, Unilia, Mzuzu Polytechnic and Karonga Polytechnic. just turn one or two secondary schools into a varsity. Do not worry MCP is in support of you!

  17. atumbuka mukuti chani anyasa times it shows that ur part of opposition u neva write smthng good to government

  18. kennedy kuntenga says:

    My fellow Malawians.

    Lets not divide our country. Malawi is one, no need of federation. Why Dr Banda decide to brake the stupid federation? He knew there was more disadvantages than advantages.

    Let me remind my fellow Malawians in the year 2000 Hon Webster Kameme from Chitipa proposed the same in Parliament but it was defeated. Lets have one Malawi, One nation and one common goal of developing this country . Our Moto now is how can we continue developing this country as one.

    May the Lord bless one Malawi.

    1. dadaboma says:

      Look at the reasons why people are now talking of federation or secession and take steps to correct them. Acknowledge injustice exists and sympathize with the targets of such injustice. Remove injustice and unfairness first, otherwise your call for unity is addressed to the wind.

  19. FREDO MANONDO says:

    ine sindinatolepo kathu, he only drove me to thousands rhetorical questions beyond my perception constancy over federalism .a number of rhetorical expression exhibited assert a philosophical understanding which the majority of Malawians lack such modulation.
    please come to my level where i can either support or negate your points on federalism.
    by the way should we advocate for federalism or nepotism?seems these two big words are cousin and sisters in a container full of fuel.

  20. Nkhondomukaya says:

    Power to the people.

  21. …..its high time we have to think seriously on how to make things right for a better tommorow, we can’t develop given this same tribalistic, neptistic and ethnistic political environment,,,

  22. Mjumacharo says:

    Icho tikukhumba niwangwa waunenesko, why call yourself a Malawian when only a selected few are considered Malawians by the state. Fedaralism must ensure that the political and administrative maps of Malawi are redrawn so that baTumbuka na baTonga abo bali ku Central Region they are re-united with those in the North becuase they will still be victimised because of theit language as is the case now.

    1. kanchenga says:

      That’s a pipe dream my friend. If they feel uncomfortable they can relocate. Are you people trying to find reason to back track Now? Oh no go home bwenubwenu. No body wants you now. Go home.

  23. chekambewa says:

    useless long story with nothing tangible hit the nail on the head brother

  24. makito says:

    Nhlane, I did not finish reading your article coz I realized I would be just one of the few who would do so. You are not communicating, write for the masses, they are the ones needing education.

  25. madona says:

    Mr writer, you are lying to us Malawians that we need federalism?? no no no, we don’t need federalism in Malawi, we Malawians NEED secession, complete overhaul, complete cut off of all tumbukas from our country Malawi. even if we introduce federalism in this country, three to four years from now the tumbukas will start whining again for secession, as long as they are not dominating in schools, govt, politics, companies etc. so instead of wasting our monies on this senseless federalism today, lets go for secession basi, band igawanepo zida apa. anyani a mchiwetawa atikwana heavy. and we are tired of just talking, reading about this topic daily, it’s time for action now!!!!! let tumbukas secede and go home, leave our lilongwe

  26. Professional journalist says:

    What is writer trying to say? People shud understand that when they writing for media, they shud be clear about what they are saying. It’s not an academic exercise or journal!

  27. Fukulani says:

    Lets try it then!

  28. North Pole says:

    Nothing new. Some of the adjectives fall outside their contextual application and meaning. This article is just a wasted space in the column.

  29. Malindima says:

    Federalism can never be a system that will distribute government assets equitably.
    The central government in a Federal system distribute a financial budget based on needs for that Region,Province or State.
    The population per Region is another factor. If there is a need to build 36 new hospitals, you can not build 12 per Region as population will be be a determining factor here. You may end building 16 in the South, 12 in the central and 8 in the North.
    Federalism can also become a source if tribalism, regionalism and nepotism if people are not well informed about it and it can further ruin this country if people misunderstand.
    We need a special case study to find what kind of Federal system that can suit Malawi in the given circumstances that we are in.

    1. Inu says:

      Malindima, I think any sensible person will totally agree with your sentiments. I have argued along the same lines. Federation does not mean equal share of resources because indeed, the needs in each region will be different. Health budgets, agricultural budgets will all favour the South and central. Even education budget and water etc. The role of the Fedration government then is to oversee the implementation of programmes, assuring financial prudence etc. Of course the Fedeal government can also to some extent make laws on how the state is to be governed.

      As malindima has pointed out, in the Malawi context, Federation, even though the proponents do not want to admit it will worsen tribalism. The truth is a fedreal government in the central will attempt to promote the welfare of the people who come from the central region and likewise in the South and north. taking for instance now, in my experience, whenever someone is criticising APM and government, first of all I have to check the name and if it is someone coming from the north I am tempted to give it less weight because I am not sure whether that person is being honest or it is just another federation sympathizer.

      Finally, the people who drive development are the private investors. So the north cannot expect any drastic changes in that regard. In the end I think there will be more frustration particularly as tribes in the central and south become more regional focussed under the federal arrrangement and at that point I think secession will be demanded.

  30. Brilliant writing!!! Very informative, really enjoyed reading it. Next time put a disclaimer that reads ” for intellectuals only” because your writing is way above the IQ of the first two people who responded to your post

  31. [email protected] political institute says:

    This is pushing the nation backwards,we can not be making a step forward now another step backwards tomorow. federalism more or less decentralisation, only that they differ on scale ie one is on regional level & the other is at district level,now can you site examples of districts which have developed thr decentralisation? there is purely non in malawi & i dont see the north develop thr federalism as some other quarters are advocating.

  32. MAKANANI says:


    1. Inu says:

      I wonder why people like to mention the airport in Mzuz. There is small one there that is hardlu used. Do you know how mant flights per day we have at kamuzu International? Just eight, yes 8. Lusaka has over 26 flight per day while Harare has over 16. So what flights would be coming to Mzuzu? We do not even have a coach service between Lilongwe and Mzuzu. yet we have 3 now between Blantyre and Lilongwe.So if there cannot be enough customers for a coach service between Lilongwe and Mzuzu, do you think there would be enough customers for an airline? Dont you think that cnstructing a modern airline in this case will be gross irresponsibility on the part of government? There has to be business ther first i.e. lot of activitis happening in Mzuzu for there to be a reason for a good airport. Afterall the one that is there is able to handle most of the flghts that land in Malwi like the malawi airlines flights. the fact Malawian airlines does not fly there is because there is no business

  33. mthakati says:

    Wasted verbage I must say. All those who crafted or supported multiparty system should stand up and appologize that they were wrong. Federalism should have been implemented right from the time power was wrested from the learned Dr Kamuzu Banga. All we have got so far are egotistical maniacs who either promoted building of mosques for their religion or who called themselves Ngwazi and built universities in their home town…..

  34. John says:

    Same old stories, just bigger words to dazzle readers. Koma ndiye ey. He talks about the quota systems with big words without mentioning the quota system, and you end up saying, what the $&@?!

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