Five or six Questions for federalists and secessionists

It is over 13 months since Malawi wake up to a story of a near fatal shooting of the then Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance, Paul Mphwiyo. It is this story that sparked revelations of systematic looting of government resources (cashgate). So far, there have been two convictions and over 70 arrests in connection with cashgate. Anti Corruption Bureau, the graft busting body has publicly confirmed that there are more arrests to be made in the coming days.federali

Mphwiyo, a supposed government corruption buster, according to then State President, Joyce Banda, has also been arrested, suspected for the very same crimes he was supposedly fighting against. When it gets to this point you realise that the whole system is rotten. Will Joyce Banda appear in court to defend her claims that Mr Mphwiyo nearly lost his life fighting against corruption within the Malawi government?

From Bakili Muluzi to Peter Mutharika, Malawi presidents have always talked tough against corruption but in reality corruption appear to have flourished at all levels of the state.  Donors who fund up to 40% of the national budget are withholding their support demanding that Malawi government sort out its financial systems and deal with culprits of cashgate satisfactorily.

Public mood suggests that Malawians have moved on and the country is back to what it does best: politicking. After all, to most Malawians cashgate is just another case in which those in power help themselves from the public purse anyway. Ask ordinary folks on the streets and you will get this perception. This is why politicians and civil servants steal with impunity. Ever wondered why donors are more livid about cashgate than Malawians?

There are a lot of disaffected Malawians that have resigned to the fact their government will never do anything for them. I am aware of a seemingly patriotic talk that Malawians cannot always wait for their government to provide for them. The truth is that there is a limitation to what ordinary citizens can do without state intervention. Beside, the government has a mandate to provide for its people and, likewise, Malawians have the right to demand efficient service delivery from their government. It is on this principle that citizens pay tax. Never underplay this fact.

Paul Mason, a British economics journalist recently wrote in The Guardian that persistent economic problems make people fatalistic. “[An] average person learns the true meaning of “inshallah”; the Arabic phrase denoting resignation to the will of God,” he observed. Adding that people “become resigned to the economy screwed, resigned to the rich getting richer … resigned to the possibility that all political heroes however noble – will betray us.”

After cashgate, how many Malawians still have trust in politicians? What have politicians, in power or otherwise done on cashgate that Malawians can be proud of? I wrote on this page three weeks ago that to demand recognition is merely human, a condition identified by Plato, the Greek philosopher, as thymos. It is this condition that drive history, to a large extent. Dictatorships fall; economies and political systems change when people demand equality and justice.

Meanwhile, cashgate has shown that the political elite and their associates share among themselves the bounties of this land. Cashgate has confirmed what most Malawians already suspected. It appears that Malawians have become accustomed to political corruption that they see it as normal. The governance and political system is a charade as it is. Instead of challenging and work to change the status quo as it were, opposition politicians have opted to call for federalism, others in the north have suggested an outright secession.

The federalism debate has since taken hold. I have utmost respect for those who fight for justice where it is denied and I believe social, economic and political injustices are among key issues hindering social and economic development in Malawi. The federalists and secessionist have genuine frustrations and they must be heard. The only curious thing is that these demands are top-down. This makes the demands cynical, for cynics like myself, at least.

Social, political and economic inequalities are a catalyst for disharmony and calls for federalism and succession are understandable but this begs a question, if politicians can manage to successfully start a debate on this pertinent issue why have they failed to do the same on equally important issues that are driving social, economic and political inequalities?

It is not a secret that the State President has too much powers in this country, we know that President Peter Mutharika is aware of this because his party promised to reduce presidential powers should they win. Those fronting the federalism debate are in parliament; why not push for reduction of presidential powers?

Why not push for enactment of transparency and accountability laws such as access to information and declaration of asserts? And not only for individuals but also political parties, should Malawians still not know where political parties get their funding from? Is federalism/ succession the best solution to these perennial problems?

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28 thoughts on “Five or six Questions for federalists and secessionists”

  1. Optic Computer says:

    Those who benefit from injustice will always support the status quo; it is up to the suffers to fight against injustice. Martin Luther King and Mahtma Ghandi wrote about this, and history proves that it was the duty of Malawians to claim justice and not the whites to offer it freely; it was the suffering Malawians that fought for democracy, and not MCP to offer it freely.

    But before launching a fight any good cause, one has to establish whether injustice does exist, then talk it over with the perpetrator, and wait on action whether he is going to correct things; if not corrected action is taken. This is the non-violence approach advocated by King and Ghandi.

    Complaints of institutional discrimination and favorism are as old as Malawi itself. No leader has come out to challenge the claims, instead they are dismissed with ‘lipstick’ unity talk. The only power Malawians have is that of voting, but not to rule the country; that power will come when the central government shared power with local government (decentralised). The MPs and the president all enjoy power through central system, and they are not ready to give up power. That is all the reason to support federalism. Most people have heard the slogan “United we stand, devided we fall.” This slogan comes from the United States of America. They are not divided as a federal government. In fact they are more untited tha we are.

  2. The call of FEDERATION it is very important call in the sense that it brings fairness,oness,equal destribution of resources,Development etc.So plz when you coment think first.

  3. Paul J.C.Mwafulirwa. says:

    If there is a profession that is blessed with selfish and crafty individuals then politics has them in abandance. The country is now straggling economically because of the same group that always makes false promises of taking the country to a different level of development. As long as the cashgate issues are driven by politicians who have vested interest in the whole saga, there wont be any speedy resolution to this national tragedy. Let the lelevant bodies do their work independently to clean up the mess from its origin as quickly and methodically as they can. It is premature for supporters of any political party to start clapping our hands and judging untill the whole exercise is complete. It is out of such disappointments and unfulfilled promisses that the call for federalism has recently gained momentum on our land.

  4. Nyani wa ku Mwananyani says:

    I think I get it: the main problem in our country is corruption. Many politicians are corrupt to the core. Like all countries, Malawi has many problems; but the one that tops the list is CORRUPTION. And this one pretty well defeats all the good intentions that are supposed to accrue from the gallant efforts of many people. The unitary government we have is NOT problem per se.
    Apparently, the push for federalism/secession is top down, rather than the other way round. Clearly, the disgruntled politicians are the force majeure in this movement.
    Jimmy Kainja has it right: democratization and accountability in the way our systems (government, elections etc.) are run should be the focus of change. In other words, federalism/secession by itself will not change much. The political class will continue to raise havoc with impunity. Just as they have always done since independence; since the dictatorship era.
    Discussing benefits and costs to federalism/secession may just be academic; if the political system, de facto, remains rotten to the core.

  5. tsetsefly says:

    I think the issue of federalism is deliberately being misrepresented. I know some greedy politicians are not comfortable with it and they are using the fact that the Malawian majority are not well read hence their understanding of such is issues is below average. Since the time we attained democracy we have been ruled by big fools who conduct themselves as village headmen and not presidents. They still believes in developing their regions of origin forgetting that they are national presidents. Ever wondered why some infrastructure develpoment plans changed their original approved locations. I am from Ntcheu but I do not condone this useless thinking by these fools calling themselves presidents that allocation of positions should be based on where you come from and not merit. So if you ask me my position regarding federalism I can say without contradicting myself that given the shallow minded leaders we have, federalism is the best thing for this country. Federalism will ensure equitable distribution of resources. Brothers and sisters, we all pay same VAT, our salaries are subjected to the same tax formula. Why then should one region be a superior beneficiary than the other. Think about it and do not be emotional.

    To those that are blindly commenting about federalism I advise them to read. If you cant read ask those with better knowledge and understand what it is all about before you dismiss the debate. It is not about chasing people to their regions of origin, no no no. It is about equitable distribution of resources, an economic phrase our leaders have failed to understand.
    I rest my case.

  6. Ujeni Phiri says:

    Inu akumpoto atikwana azipita kwawo, they are a cancer to Malawi which need to be cut off. Secession basi not federalism

  7. Issa Kabudu says:

    Wakemba bwino – vuto ali kwaife who are less informed of the works of government. The federalism call I think is coming the cashgaters to confuse the majority of Malawians in the name of northern region. I see no reason to all the needs of tigawane or federal government, coz the so called the northerner are the ones who are rated as educated and r in all the government offices and well placed in terms of therpir positions and power – one problem I have with them which many are my friends is that monopoly they back each and fixing each in possitions and have no mercy for others. This is the reality otsutsa atsuse, when the word wakwithu is mentioned every thing else stops and only wakwithu is at play – now because of this they also forgets home and they have their homes in the cities and vilages of other people, who do you expect will develop the north when its own kids are nomads?

  8. johnM says:

    Where are the five or Six questions you suggested on the title of the article?

    You seem to suggest that the Federalism or Secession issue is not important and there are other more important issues that the country has to deal with first. I respectfully disagree.

    Federalism or secession is my opinion a priority because it is about self determination. There is no one in the world who wants others to make decisions about there welfare. Russians would not want Americans to make decisions for them. The situation we have in Malawi is that we have one region, or should I say one or two districts that controlling the rest of the country. The issue of presidential powers and other matters can also be discussed in addition to the issue of federalism but to say that the issue is irrelevant is lacking seriousness.

    Mind you, the matter of Cashgate is symptoms of the unitary state. Southerners have been in power in the last twenty years and they have ushered in corruption into the system. If you examine top position of Government, most have been occupied by Southerners who have risen to those position simply because they come from that part of the country. During the cashgate saga the following positions were occupied by Southerners: Reserve Bank Governor, Secretary to the Treasury, Accountant General, Secretary of Tourism, Chief Secretary, Director of Finance at OPC, Chief Accountant at Tourism, Budget Director at Treasury. In addition, in the recent arrests, most just happen to be Southerners, people like Chibvunde, Mphwiyo, Makande, happen to be from the South.

    In my opinion, by addressing the issue of Federalism, secession, we shall address all other ills that are affecting this country.

    1. Chikadzakowani says:

      If proof was required as to how silly the whole federalism debate has become, you only need to read this sentence “Russians would not want Americans to make decisions for them”. Really? How stupid can one be?

      The whole federalism debate will lead nowhere because it is based on raw emotion rather than reason. We have problems in the country, but if they cannot be solved at the national level it is sheer folly to imagine that they will be solved in federated regions…

      1. johnM says:

        All changes that have taken place throughout history has been based on raw emotion. Without “raw emotions” the world would bot be where it is today.

        And do you dispute that Russians would not allow Americans to make their decisions for them?

      2. spot on says:

        chikadzakowani,if you sourtheners were emotionless,why did you introduce quota system using hearsays and rumours that northeners occupied more university places than you? so you see that emotions are good right? now you have your siblings with low IQ going to university because your sourthen president acted out of emotions and strted stopping intelligent people from enrolling in universities,so now dont stop others who want to help themselves via federalism and sessesion,do you understand me?

  9. Bambala says:

    Where are the questions here my Friend? You have missed all a lot in your opinion, Please can you write again next time I think you are lost and not thinking strait this time around.

  10. Johntk says:

    I like the whole article except what he said should be the questions to ask the secession/federalism proponents. I think the questions he asked are trivial and silly. I think we should be asking why most cashgate thieves are being revealed to be LAWYERS and yet thats the profession that earns more money! I think we need to be asking HOW federalism will limit powers of the central gvt in terms of the control of finances( coz thats where cashgate is) as the central gvt controls what goes in and out( unless the constitution is well tweaked). I think we need to be asking how a NATIONAL referendum will help in determining the will of the people from the North when they have the smallest population and yet they are the main proponents if this. And, in that light, I think we need to ask, if federalism/secession does fail through this National referendum( which will favour the bigger populations anyway), will all these problems that started the conversation and that are presented in this article just vanish? Should i go on?

  11. Kadushu says:

    #11 if we dont have an International Airport in the Capital City Lilongwe how can we have one in the North. Tamayendani muziona ma International Airport osati zimenezi

    1. Inu says:

      Very true. I think we will need to constrcut a modern terminal first at KIA before we can think of constructing one in Mzuzu. The one in Mzuzu will wait for business to pick up first before thinking of enlarging it otherwise it will be illogical to ahead with such an expensive project in the abscence of demand.

      The airport at KIA is a shame. As a Malawian I am ashamed to go through this airport. We can not talk even of Chileka that is just garbage of an airport. All our neigbours have or are in the process of upgrading their airports to international standards. Malawi remains behind since we dont seem to know what to prioritize. All we know is cashgating government funds.

  12. Kika kanawe says:

    Mbava zonse zinjateni,osaiwalanso onse okhudzidwa ndi MK92bn.Onse amene adagulanso nyumba za MHC mwachinyengo apite ndithu!Ndende zikachepa muzasandutse nyumba yanga ndende.Mukalephera ndiwagwira ndekha.

  13. MADALA TEAM says:






  14. ROBERT says:

    I would love Malawi to remain Malawi, but federalism system should be put into use. Lets call a spade a spade, there is natural hatred between Northerners and southerners (THIS IS A FACT). Now the Northerners are minority which means they will never produce a President of this country unless otherwise. Now lets come to national development, the North becomes a victim because presidents always come from the south ( people who have natural hatred with people from the North) hence can not priotise North interms of developments. Even if he ( the president) can talk a lot, i will do this, i will do that, but he ends up doing only in his home region. Let me just give examples of anticipated developments.

    -Much talked JENDA EDINGENI Road
    -Rehabilitation of Mzuzu – Nkhata-Bay Road
    -Rehabilitation of Mzuzu Stadium
    -Rumphi Nthalire( Road)
    -Free Distribution of food e’g Maize etc, by WFP

    All these listed above, the Govt is not doing anything.

    Now to add insult to injury, new projects are born in the south ( talk of Machinga-Lirangwe Road; Phalombe Neno connecting Mwanza Road, just to mention a few.)

    We should not pretend that we are one, NO

    Quota system was totally imposed against people from the North.
    How can you force someone to go to school when he/she doesn’t want?

    Am telling you today, they are many teenagers flocking to the North kukalima Fodya from places like Mulanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Mangochi, Blantyre(Rural), Machinga yet you expect them to go to school, how?

    Can someone challenge me here, i have never seen teenagers from the North flocking to the South kukathyola Tea, instead amapita ku School, nde akachita bwino ku School mwati iyayi, we will only need 10 or so students to get admitted to University of Malawi from District yakwawo, is it fair?

    Atleast federalism can solve these problems.

    1. Mbuzi says:

      i second your opinion sir i cant agree more, yes north migration to south is academic related and not plucking tea,while south migration to north is tobbacco tenancy jobs thats the major big gap these regions have at personal level!!!!

  15. Jimusole says:

    Meanwhile let the ACB intensify investigations into how the country also lost 92 billion Kwacha. The looters of that money must also be netted. It may take one year or two but we shall know. Some people are saying the names that appear in the 92 billion audit report are the same as those in the 13 billion, which should give people a clue as to who is and was behind the looting and when it started. Why are some politicians being shielded in this issue. Let all thieves be prosecuted alike. They stole from the public and the public deserve to know who swindled them. Bravo German government for providing K9 billion for another forensic audit into the theft of the K92 billion.

  16. Man from Goliati says:

    Can someone tell us where Mphwiyo comes from, when he built his empire and the like. This information is lacking. We need it soonest. It is good that Mphwiyo is alive becaus e if he had died from the shooting of September 13 last year Malawians would or have known where he was getting his money and who his accomplices were.

  17. Man from Goliati says:

    You haven’t said anything here. The call for federalism has started because of social injustices masterminded by Peter Mutharika. mutharika is presiding over a system that will boomerang because it is devisive. There was no call for federalism when JB was in power because her government was inclusive but Mutharika has thrown all the merits of inclusivity out of the window and has appointed 75 percent of his cabinet from one region. That is why people from the North and some MPs from the Centre are calling for federalism. When you have nothing to write it is better to keep quiet than to show your political colors.

  18. Odala Tili Odala says:

    Changes in every country have been achieved through the same top down! Leaders are there to champion changes! So what is the problem with the same leaders suggest federalism?

  19. Nyapapi says:

    That’s only four questions stupido!

  20. Phwetembwe says:

    The questions raised are very important but are directed to the wrong audience. Malawians think, reason and breathe along tribes which is why they go to elections & vote in government real thieves eg Peter Mutharika who everybody knows that shared 92 billion with Bingu, MHC houses etc. I propose that presidents must be stripped of immunity which gives them a leeway to steal while in power, thus gospel truth & that donor money must administered by donors themselves directly. I also propose that ACB boss should not be appointed by the president but by parliament through application system. Politicians are silent on such issues because they want to benefit from the system when in power including Chakwera. Chakwera is coming from a very corrupt system, the church, which has virtually no checks & balances eg Nkhoma Synod USAID money. After all politics is a dirty game with very dirty players eg RK, Muluzi, Yusurf Mwawa, Sam Mpasu, JB, Bingu, Peter etc

  21. Mbuzi says:

    change the headline of your story it doesnt make sense, and it is shallow than the topic portrays mr kainja, its very empty and dull piece of writing my bro!!!

  22. Dracula says:

    Heading and article are unrelated????

  23. uyuni says:

    it seems the writer has the brains. there is sense in this piece. wanamahara munthu uyu

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