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?

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Please share this Article if you like Email This Post Email This Post

More From the World

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Optic Computer
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… Read more »
zopusa K92Billion DDPgate 2005/2012

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.

Paul J.C.Mwafulirwa.
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… Read more »
Nyani wa ku Mwananyani
Nyani wa ku Mwananyani
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
Ujeni Phiri

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

Issa Kabudu
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… Read more »
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… Read more »

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…


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?

spot on

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?


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.

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… Read more »

More From Nyasatimes