Malawi federalism: A light-hearted conversation

It seems like Federalism has finally captured the imagination of our public intellectuals – which comprise mostly of those of us with the means to access media outlets of whatever kind. It truly has captured mine as well even though the hat of an intellectual is not one that I like to wear. Several weeks ago I wrote two articles on this very platform raising caution – not about how good or bad federalism is, but rather what Malawi’s problems are and whether or not federalism is able to fix them. This seems reasonable because calls for Federalism, at least in our case, are in response to a particular set of problems brought about by nepotism, regionalism, tribalism, underdevelopment etc.

Moses Mphatso Kaufulu

Moses Mphatso Kaufulu

For the other somewhat more successful federal states like America, the concept arose in an attempt to consolidate formerly independent states under one union hence the name “United” States of America, and similarly “United” Kingdom, and more recently the onward march towards a consolidated Europe through the Europe Union.

Interestingly, federalism especially with regard to the southern states of the USA was consolidated with force or the very real threat of force as the initial 13 states bequeathed significant arsenals to their new mother government. Indeed, this would be antithetical to our hopes that federalism would reduce rather than increase the prominence of a central government. But never mind that: for me it is a fact that a federal government welds incredible powers through its greater financial muscle and its stockpile of weapons in comparison to any State within its territory.This notwithstanding and for our intents and purposes, federalism is as good a system as any – the trick however is to implement it in a manner that addresses the particular sets of problems we are trying to free ourselves from.

In view of this, we can learn a lot from how we implemented or (mis)implemented other current system of government. For one, the way in which our present unitary model came about facilitated the formation of many of the problems we now have. There was a huge rush to have a referendum, and the constitutional consultation and drafting process were largely left to “the experts” or “the intellectuals” (the professors). Citizens were inadequately consulted, and it seemed almost as if that the energies at that time were to see Kamuzu go, first and foremost, and to deal with the complexities of our new dispensation as secondary matters.

Well, we modestly succeeded at the first, and failed fantastically at the second, and we shouldn’t make that same mistake this time around. Let us rather fully understand what we want to achieve, and to soberly anticipate the challenges this transition would bring about. These inherent transitional challenges do not render federalism a bad idea or system; rather theymerely require that we become aware of and honest about how tedious it is to implement and maintain. Like the saying goes – those who point towards the difficulties of an arduous trip about to be undertaken are not the enemies of the trip but they are that trip’s truest proponents because they want everyone to come to terms with its besetting realities(I just made it up… I do beg your pardon). So let us come to terms with the realities of federalism in a way we never did with regards to the realities of a unitary government when the dictatorship was being unseated in 93-94.

Firstly, we do not want to continue reproducing the conditions of suffering and marginalization that Malawi has come to be characterized by – this is why after all federalism has become a hit, not so? This means that – on the basis of principle – we must not uproot one unjust system in order to implement another which turns former victims into victors, former victors into victims, while creating new grudges and fomenting new sensitivities against groups who formerly where neither victims or victors. This is important for at least two reasons. The first reason is that the entire central and northern regions are not completely populated by Chewas and Tumbukas respectively.

There are other groups there, which are equally proud of their own tribal or ethnic identities and who are currently being overlooked because of their lower political presence due to their smaller numbers. If Federalism continues to be seen under such broad categories without deliberately turning our attention to ethnic minorities, we will implement provincial or state governments in each of the four regions that are dominated by Yaos (in the east), say Lhomwes (in the South, though I am really not sure because there are several huge groups there), Chewas (in the central), and Tumbuka’s (in the north). In no time, we will see the minority groups in these new provinces begin to agitate against domination within their own provinces.

Such internal wrangles become potent grounds for an “opportunist” central federal government to escalate divisions in order to gain control over a province dimmed important for whatever deficit reason the establishment might have (political, economic or other) at that time. So we must be careful to find a federalist system that is sensitive to the issues that have brought the unitary model under disrepute – because these same issues could find their expression in the new federal setting.

The other issue is the selection of presidents and representatives in parliament. We cannot sweep this under the rag. As a country we will still needlegislative and executive arms that will respectively enact laws and enforce them across the entirety of Malawi’s territory. The first question is, who would be a legitimate president of federal Malawi? Would we not find ourselves under a president put into office through the same mechanisms of tribes and regions that currently beset us? I say this because I have confidence neither in the silly idea of a rotating presidency, nor in the idea of the provincial governors electing from amongst themselves a representative to that high office. Such would merely spawn circumstances through which specific regions will seize the state, roll out programmes that favour their particular regions, isolate antagonistic regions, and then leave office having destroyed the little that was there.

And whatever would be left would be further destroyed by the next leader from another previously victimized province. In response to this question we may need to borrow from progressive documents such as the Kenyan constitution which requires that majorities be won in various pre-defined small constituencies – that is to say, getting 50%+1 would not be enough: rather, a federal president would need to win majorities in a majority of (or in all small)constituencies in order to get into power.

African presidents in this day and age must win sufficient minority caucuses rather than a few majority blocs. (However, we would need a Malawian definition of constituency that spoke to our unique realities.) This requirement would forcegroups to form alliances and to become tolerant of each other. This same idea could apply to the provincial governments themselves to ensure that the north does not become Tumbuka dominated, the south Lhomwe dominated, the East Yao dominated and the centre Chewa dominated.

And yet, these are all still the lighter matters – ultimately, we will need to answer the more difficult question: what will the developmental mandate of the Malawian state be? Recall that this is the question that informed the decision to concentrate powers in the executive in 93-94. Our “experts”, including our own incumbent, were of the view that Malawi had very serious developmental challengesthat required a strong executive to – through active state interventions – implement development in the country.

In my opinion, Malawi has not yet graduated from the need to have some kind of developmental state (all this liberalist nonsense will not feed the poor and plug them into sustainable enterprises), and yet a developmental state always implies an executive with exceptional powers, which puts it at odds with the liberal ideals that are implicit in the federalism we are calling for. This is seen starkly in the Russian federation which has eviscerated provincial or state governments to allow the federal government implement “Russian (Re-)Nationalism” after the collapse of their Soviet empire. Depending on which news channel you watch or listen to, you could view Russia as a resounding success or a failure with regard to the objectives it laid out for itself (I am of the former view).

Nonetheless,this is the question I would like to see people debate because it points towards the kind of country we will end up having irrespective of whatever flowery language we use in our new federal constitution – the law, regardless of its spirit and meaning, is always implemented according to the socio-historical workings of power: this is why two laws, written in exactly the same language are never implemented in the same way across two different countries, or within the same countries but at different times. The socio-historical and cultural baggage of any country materializes in the application of its laws. It takes tremendous political-will to offset such well entrenched patterns of power of the sort that Malawi has not yet seen since democratization in 93-94.

So again, the problem is not with unitary or federal systems of government… the problem has to do with a clear articulation of what we are trying to rectify, what we are trying to avoid, and where were hope to be in the next several decades. Scholars do debate the objective advantages or disadvantages of the two systems, but in Malawi I fear that the failure of Unitarianism has more to do with our inability to even implement it properly rather than its inherent or objective limitations (or perhaps this is an objective weakness in itself? Hmmm, we would have to ask an “expert” or a “professor”).

But until we do, my suspicion is that the same problems would arise under federalism: if we get into it without a clear definition of what it is, what we want, and a commitment towards implementing fully what we will have called Malawian Federalism. Failing which, we will all be here again several years from now – slightly older and dripping with our usual auras of expert knowledge – talkingabout how federalism failed us while drooling over whatever new system the world would have yet contrived at that time. I wish us well.

  • Moses Mphatso Kaufulu writes merely for Nyasa Times to add his voice to the many usually more qualified others to matters that affect Malawi and her people. His feeling is that in the long run we all lose together even though in the short run some are deluded by their small “parasitic” victories.
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51 thoughts on “Malawi federalism: A light-hearted conversation”

  1. Optic Computer says:

    Every system has its own merits and demerits. What educated Malawians need to do is to roll out civics in primary and secondary education to enlighten the citizens on the government system in use (as well as other available forms of government), so that Malawians can make informed choices. Kamuzu failed to allow Malawians to own televisions; now televisions are here, civics is no longer taught in schools to enlighten the citizens. Many educated Malawians cannot even make informed decisions for themselves.

  2. one minute man says:

    loud and clear konzi

  3. MKWAPU says:


  4. Jando says:

    This article by a Kaufulu is meant to be anti-federalist,kill the debate and continue with the unitary system that oppresses and suppresses regions that are less populated.

    Malawi has defacto federal structures in place. All major churches,ie catholic and anglican have appointed bishops administering dioceses. CCAP has synods .

    Government has heads of department in each region eg police,education,agriculture etc.

    Every major political party has an elected regional governor or chairman in each region,yet the country is not divided as preached by the anti-federalists.

    I therefore dont see any problem to democratise the defacto federal system that exists in malawi since all politica parties have compete in electing regional governors.

    U may be surprised to see a dpp candidate in north may win as was done in mbalachanda council bye election. Councillors that were elected in districts in the region may sit at regional council. The federal system may benefit all regions democratically as each province will have elected a regional governor who be accountable to inhabitants of each province.

    Our neighbour, Mozambique had elections that included elected provincial governors for each region 5 days ago. Federalism is part of democracy and it cannot be stopped. How long it may take or twisted,it wii be implemented in malawi.

  5. Jumbo says:

    If the incumbent leader wants to keep Malawi as one he should look into the issues of those who want Federalism or Session and not bury his head in the sand and just suggest a referendum

    1. agogo a Mo says:

      Very constructive article from a sober mind You make us proud.

  6. SOTHINI says:


  7. MESHO says:

    Federation imadibwa?


  9. Mbwiye says:

    When we talk of quota system is it not one way of equal distribution of the resources (National cake)? It means Nchisi, Neno, Phalombe, Dowa etc are now able to send 10 children to public Universities. Imagine Machinga up to now does not have a Govt boarding secondary school, should we deny 10 children from Machinga from attending Public University because it is a poor district? Then how do we expect Machinga to develop? This is why others are saying anthu ena akuzikonda. Anthu ena akufuna zonse zikhale zao. Lets distribute education and other resources equally and people stop calling us anthu ozikonda.

    1. Jumbo says:

      The issue is not Quota system but the question is why is Machinga allowed to be poor when Bakili and Atupele come from there, do they only look after themselves ?

      1. Sec-specialist says:

        That’s the whole reason people are fighting for federalism; so that those in power should not only be developing their own homes but the whole country should equitably develop.

  10. Ujeni Phiri says:

    If you go to Livingstonia synod headquarters you will find a poster saying speaking Chichewa is prohibited, meaning they hate the language and the speaker of the language in equal terms. You will not find this no sense anywhere in the south even in Magochi or thyolo. it mean minus the north the rest of the country is united and there is no hatred among them. The solution is simple LET THEM GO KWAWO. kAYA AZIKAKHAPANA AZIKAKHAPANA KWAWOKO. No wander there is no single party representing the majority views of these people kwawoko. LET THEM GOOOOOOOOOO PLEASE. NGATI TRANSPORT INGAVUTA TITHANDIZAPO AZIPITA KWAWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. WE DONT WANT BLOOD SHED HERE. Ndianthu amiseche komanso osayamika. panopa alemba kale kalata ku UN nkhani yoti yangoyamba kukambidwa kumene. Atengane ndi ma gay awo achina undule azipita, amatisokonezera dziko.

  11. vindere says:

    Excellent piece but the only solution here is sessesion for the North if they want to rebuild their lives and infrastructure. If the Centre wants to remain with the South well fine with me because wether they like it or not they should know that Lomwes and Yaos are going to rule them for eternity and they will be touted left and right.Northerners, don’t be fooled by these people. They think they hold all the aces.I say again this country doesn’t have anything to be proud of. Just lots of bushes from north to south.It’s time for the Northerners to eradicate their bush without the help of these two stoogies. I rest my case.

  12. Paul J.C.Mwafulirwa. says:

    This country called Malawi will take time to be where it was,unity wise, during Kamuzu Banda erra. In those days leaders talked and, somehow, practiced unity. The post one party rulers talk of unity but never practice the same. Tribal name calling is the order of the day. Education is no longer measured by student’s intelligence but by the District or Region of origin. It is high time leaders help us take a U turn.

    1. Cashgate 1 says:

      Really? your hatred has been registered.

    2. Cashgate 1 says:

      Sorry the earlier reply was meant for NO 12: Ujeni Phiri

  13. Ujeni Phiri says:

    I don’t support federalism but sessation of the north. Lets do away with these nepotistic tribes of the north. They are a cancer to Malawi as a nation hence they need to be cut off completely.

    1. mcpsupporter says:

      This is not about the North nor Caesasion please understand. No one wants the north de linked.from the rest of the country but we meed a federal system for the sake of equity of resources and sharing of development equitably.

  14. johnM says:

    It is clear from the tone of the article that the author, who is by the way a very young man, is against Federalism and has written a very long article only to describe his misgivings about the federal system of Government. He has failed, like many of the proponents of the unitary state, to list down and describe the benefits and advantages of the unitary state which in my opinion is none.

    Everyone should agree that despite everything Malawi, after fifty years of unitary system of Government, is one of the least developed countries in world and is the country with the lowest Human Development Index in the SADC region. Malawi has one the highest rates of Maternal death in world, Malawi has the highest rate of poverty in the world. I can go on and on. If the Unitary State was beneficial, how come Malawi faces these challenges? How come Malawi as country is not progressing?

    There are a lot of nonsense from advocates of a Unitary state, they have never put across their arguments for the country to continue this system of Government which has failed to deliver. All they have if fear, fear of the unknown

    They fear that if the new system of Government is adopted, the country will split. Of course the fear they have is unfounded however, even if the country was to split, would the sky fall. Malawi, everyone seems to forget, is a colonial creation and splitting it would not be breaking a commandment in the bible.

    1. Inu says:

      I am afraid I have to disagree with you here. The writer of this article is probably the only one who has written the most sane and excellent piece on the issue of Federalism. He is right by saying that we do not have to jump to a new system without thinking about how we want that system to serve us, what issues to address an how to address them. If you remember, when we were transitioning from one party state, all flowery language and building castles in the air was the order of the day. Most people though that multiparty was a solution to all our problems and that development would be accelerated. So have we achieved those things today? from what you have written, it seems it has failed us greatly because if it did, then you would not be talking of federalism.

      Therefore the question to you is, do you think we should just adopt a new system withouth exploring the pros and cons of it so that we know whether the system is good for us or not? It seems to me that the proponents of Federation like to say we need to encourage debate and yet when someone says something that opposes this system these same people want to attack them. Already there are emerging divisions among those who are advancing federalism and one group (FOND) says it is the only rightful institution to lead this course unlike the one led by Bina Shawa. So you see, federalism does not mean that leadership issues will easily be solved. If people have already started fighting on who to lead, what more when the new executive has to be formed. Imagine if the north is allowed to have a federal government and the people do not vote in Mzomera Ngwira into the executive. Do you think he will take it easily or he would start another fight?

      The bottomline is that it is gross irresponsibility to adopt a system which we have not thouroughly explored. Read an article by D.D Phiri in yesterday’s paper. It was an interesting read but still suspect that most people who support federalism will dismiss him anyway.

      1. Gomezga says:

        What is the problem with most Malawians we are fond of writing and discussing hatred. Federalism is simply an option to the way we manage government affair it is not splitting the people of Malawi. No’ 12 has clearly demonstrated that he understand what he is talking about those of commenting on him are just doing injustice to yourselves by showing that you don’t fully comprehend what is happening.

        The article in question is offering no solution it is just unempty writing. when people say that this system (federalism) is bad they should tells us clear points why it is bad giving evidence or backup points when, where and how it happened. similarly those for unitary system they tells us why we still believe that good things will come through this way of managing our country. that is what we are looking for not just a lengthy writing with no substance.

        You should not be wasting time finger pointing on one another this one is for and that one not, and so what? Some even write a Tumbuka kuzikonda and so? In Malawi no one can tell me that a lomwe is humble person, a Yao is not talkative and a Chewa is more talkative and yet more forgiving, a Tonga is not arrogant and full of himself.

        Born, grew up, educated and married in Malawi I should Malawians better I do not need to be told who we are.

        1. Mocha says:

          But sir, have even read it… this article says nothing about advocating for one thing or another… you are reading whats in your own mind… read the text not your own prejudices… can you even read at all?

    2. Sec-Specialist says:

      It is unfortunate that you choose to interpret this young man’s write-up as anti-federalist. Because he has put up some questions which we (you and me) must consider before we make up our minds about federalism. Surely, We would not want to be confronted by the same scenario many years from now when we discover that the new system did not solve the numerous problems we hoped it would. For example, have we considered how the Federal President would be elected? And are we sure that system of electing him would be any different from the present? Because for all I know, the Federal govt will continue to control the national treasury and how sure are we that they would not do what they have been doing so far? All these questions and many more need us to carefully consider what this young man is raising in his post. So stop hating and think for once.

  15. Peter Muthanyula says:

    Mwana wa Zefe Kaufulu uyu. Brilliant like the father (the mother was very smart too). Proud of you Mphatso!

  16. mswachi says:

    This is one of the most sober and fairy balanced articles in relation to this issue of federation! I just wish if we all were able to discuss this issue with a clear mind like ‘my brother Moses’ has done!

  17. shikamoo says:

    The problems we have in Malawi are a result of ignorance. I don’t come from the North, neither from the center nor south, but from Malawi and a proud Malawian. However, for argument sake, the north or those calling for federalism have a case. Malawians are never one, have never been and will never be one. The north or northerners have always regarded as second class group in Malawi. In 1994, in all fairness, if indeed Malawians are one people as others claim, which is not true, we would have all voted for Chakufwa Chihana. But because Malawians chose to ignore him for Bakili because of his origin. In 2004, Malawians, in UDF camp led by Bakili also chose to ignore Aleke Banda to lead UDF, despite his seniority in the party and smart politician just because he was from the north. They chose Bingu an outsider to consolidate the country’s leadership in the southern Malawi. In his administration, Bingu settled on Goodall Gondwe out of so many Malawians to help rebuild the sinking economy. Things improved and later dumped Goodall for their mediocre economist just to help siphon public resources and enrich themselves. When Bingu died, Goodall was thrown to the dogs despite being vice president of the party. DPP chose to ignore Goodall not that he was not capable to the party, hence presidency, but his fate was his origin. APM came in to consolidate the southern Malawi. MCP was founded by Orton Chirwa, a northerner, but surrendered the leadership of to Kamuzu, but those from the center consider the north as north not Malawi, hence consider MCP as center. I hope his conscious was clear and knew pretty well that we are one. UDF and those from the south after Muluzu only saw Atupele Muluzi as the only person who could lead Malawi. Despite his age, they fought had to frustrate anybody who harbours ambitions of leadership to leave the party, which they won. Today, Atupele is being followed and who knows, one day he shall be my president. In all these Malawians from Center and south have never dared thinking supporting anyone from north to become president of the Land. Presidency in Malawi is not for the northerners. JB when accidentally into power, picked Khumbo as vice just to finish her two years as per her words. when she wanted her mandate from Malawians in 2014, she dumped Kachali for Gwengwe. time fro the north was up. BUT SINCE 1994, the northerners have supported and voted for anybody whom they had trust in to help Malawians not northerners. i recall, at one point majority north voted for Chakwamba from South. In 2009 they voted for Bingu from the south who later scoffed them as cheats at the university, flooded the super scale in the civil service etc, and his anger against the north bore quota system in government services, which many up to now think is for access to higher education only not knowing that even Primary selection considers it, promotions in civil service consult their mother quota to tell them who to be promoted. All these, I feel are grounds for those advocating federalism. Come to infrastructure development. Just one example. Mzuzu university re-oriented from TTC to University way back in late 1990s, but if you go my own Machinga TTC looks closer to a university than MZUNI. LUANAR seceded a year or two ago, but construction work is vividly noticed to expand it. Oooh! my words. Malawians have never been one people, are not one people and will never be one people. THE NORTH IS JUSTIFIED. iF THE CENTER DOESN’T SUPPORT, THEY WILL LEAVE TO REGRET. IT WILL BE TOO DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO CHANGE THE TABLES. WHAT i SEE FROM THE SOUTH NOW IS THAT THERE IS AN UNDERGROUND AND HONOURABLE CAMPAIGN TO INCREASE IN NUMBERS BY BEARING A LOT OF CHILDREN TO BENEFIT ON THE QUOTA SYSTEM AND COUNTER THE VOTES FROM OTHER REGIONS AND CONTINUE WITH THEIR SUPREMACY IN THE LAND.

    1. master says:

      excellent analyisis, keep it up!!!!!!!

    2. Inu says:

      @Shikamoo, are you serious? there is an underground movement to bear more just so win votes, are you watching too much cartoons or what? so how would one convince the parents to bear more children so that someone will get more votes? can this be realistic? which parent would want thatknowing that you will face the cost of raising those children alone? The fact that fertility is high in the south is just because the people there drop out of school early and they start having children early. if more people remain in school, fertility rate will significantly drop.

      Coming to Chihana, I have commented on this before. Chihana was the one who was supposed to be the first multiparty president im Malawi but he never became one, the question is why? You have attributed that to nepotism, and right so, but whose nepotism? Can you dig up the names of the first executive of AFORD, where were they from? From there you will get your answer. AFRORD was coined to be a regional party and that was its demise, Chihana in his shortsightenedness forgot that multiparty democracy is all about numbers, if you do not have them no matter how good you are you lose. By filling his executive with the north, he burried himself politically.

      When JB chose Gwengwe, she was just facing the same numbers game. In her alculations, she knew that the central region has significant votes and if somebody from the central would bring those votes to her, she would eventually become the winner. Unfortunately Gwengwe was not the one to do that for her.

      Please guys read D. D. Phiri’s article yesterday. H is written another mature and sensible article there. He argues that the problems that are there, all of them can be addressed in the unitary system.

      1. kashigeti yanyamuka says:

        Mwalemba zanzeru boss. I wish I could write like you osati shikamo

  18. Vyachalo says:

    The point is president to think fast and solve the problems

  19. Truth Pains says:

    Federal or Unitary System: Remove Quota System, consider Malawi as one in case of developmental projects. Inu amene mukupanga promote quota sytem DO NOT love Malawi, amene mukupanga promote federalism DO NOT love Malawi as well. A Bwana President, issue of referendum is useless, nkhani apart ndi issues of concern: are they genuine or not? If they are genuine, act accordingly. Nkhani yovuta kwambiri ya quota in access to higher education, osayang’ana place of origin. Kuphunzira ndi munthu payekha. Osafuna kulimbikira musiyeni, akudziwa chomwe akuchita. Mukuonengeranji mbiri yanu a President. Chotsani quota, chitukuko yang’anani mbiri zonse. Ineyo for one, I am not comfortable ndi nkhani za quota, nepotism, federalism, secession, biased (nepotistic) developmental initiatives. Malawi is one. Za quota izi zomwe zautsa mapiri pa chigwa, kodi atumbukawo amaonera mayeso kapena amachonga ndi kupanga process results ndi atumbuka anzawo? Zinthu sizili choncho ayi. Amene sakufuna kulimbikira sukulu musiyeni abwana President, iyeyo kapena makolo ake akudziwa chomwe akuchita. Musadziwonengere mbiri ndi anthu aulesi even ntchito imene imafuna munthu olimbikira. Did you achieve your qualifications without hard work and dedication? If not, why mind about such lazy people? Chifukwa change mavoti. Si nkhani imeneyo. Thetsani za federalism pothetsa quota system, nepotism in employment circles, ensure developmental issues are evenly distributed. I am not trying to school you on these issues but just reminding you. Ndikuona ngati most of you advisors are there for money not the welfare of Malawi as a whole. I wish I talked to you directly if you are a listening President and having the welfare of Malawi at heart but who am I? However, whoever reads nyasatimes on your behalf should deliver these views. We look to you and nobody else.

    1. kanchenga says:

      Oh oh no I can not believe this. Mr President don’t allow these people to change their mind. I hate blackmailing very much. These people thought that by bringing the federal issue or stand alone the rest of us are going to beg them. Far from it let them goo. Please please let them go please. If they stay then they must accept quota system. Don’t even waist money on referendum. Call their leaders and start the noble task of sharing our national wealth fairly and help them prepare for independence. No blood is worthy shading here. Let them go please.

  20. America says:

    go go go go tumbukaz u r full of shit muzipita kwanu timatopa nanu kuzikonda kwambiri anyani inu, pa tsunu pa nyoko

    1. agogo a Mo says:

      Stinking thinking you are a loser. We need the north it is part of Malawi iweyo choka. Satan is using you to break our country Malawi.

  21. Alfred Munduwabo says:

    All these are coming in because MEC by rigging elections of 2014 and wanting Munthalika and Mulizi families to be ruling Malawi.

  22. Daniel Phiri says:

    Very good article. My own view is that federalism will not solve the perceived current problems (quota system, inequitable public appointments & inequitable infrastructure). The reason for saying this is that even under a federal system, provinces/regions/ states with more people still have a bigger say just like under a unitary state. For example California has 55 electoral college votes while Alaska has 3 only. In fact this was why the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland broke up because Southern Rhodesia was so dominant in the Federation (it had the largest number of voters – the whites). A Federal Malawi will still have the hated Southern Region (forget Eastern – this only exists on paper, it is very much part and parcel of the South) dominating events.

    The North has two realistic options. The first is to make peace with the fact that they are a minority and should be sensitive to the needs of other tribes and negotiate realistic targets. For example, it does not make sense for the North to expect to get three quarters of public university places while the remaining 87% of the population gets the remaining 25% of places despite producing eligible (not necessarily high scoring) students. The Livingstonia Synod keeps talking about ‘deserving’ students – but a 20 points student from Thyolo is just as deserving as a 6 points student from Mzimba. This is something northerners do not seem to understand, they could even take up arms on this issue alone.

    The other option for the North (perhaps the only option) is for total separation – secession. Federalism will not be enough; it can never be enough. The debate should really move from federalism to secession because as the author is hinting, we will find ourselves debating this same issue again in a few years time.

    Many countries have amicably broken up over the years: The Czech and Slovak Republics (formerly Czechslovakia); a number of republics from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Eritrea (formerly just Ethiopia), Sudan and South Sudan, e.t.c. I have no doubt that the Democratic Republic of Kaning’ina and The Republic of Malawi will do just fine after they split up…

    1. master says:

      good analysis my bro, secession is a better option and not federalism

  23. Steve Kamkwalala says:

    Leave the centre out of your nonsense. There is no way the centre can get along with the North in Malawi. Never

    1. Inu says:

      This is very true and the reason is not that we from the centre hate northerners but that we have so much in common and similar linguistic and cultural heritage wih the people from the south. There are Chewas in the South too and that is why you have gule wamkulu in the south. We have maseko Ngonis in the south as well as Yaos in the central. AGAIN WHY WOULD THE CENTRAL REGION WANT TO PARTNER WITH THE NORTH WHEN LIVINGSTONIA SYNON ATTEMPTS TO BAN CHEWA LANGUAGE IN THE NORTH?????? CAN WE CALL THOSE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS??????????

  24. Zondiwe says:

    Moses, for the umpteenth time, the North is not composed of the Tumbuka only. In fact, probably the Tumbuka are a minority in the North if one considers numbers.
    Do not then equate Tumbuka to the North.
    I am a Ngoni (Nguni) from Mzimba, and definitely not Tumbuka, and will never call myself Tumbuka. However, I am a Northerner, or put more clearly, I come from the Northern Region. I thus identify with all the people from the North, whatever their tribal grouping.
    in the same vein, all the citizens of Malawi are equal before the Law, and must have equal rights. Is this so in reality? Calls for federalism, etc, arise when people see that they are being short-changed, and it is up to Government to address the inequalities if tribal strife is to be averted. The issue is very simple and straight-forward. Give equal recognition to all your citizens, and you will avoid awkward questions.

    1. Mocha says:

      Write your own article and let’s hear your arguments. You have missed the point. Or if you haven’t, argue your case. Osamangokana opanda kuyikapo maganizo anu. Bwanji kodi angoni?!

    2. kanchenga says:

      Just go home.Why must I work hard in the field to finance a certain group that thinks god gave them special brains. Go home to your land. Non us alomwe what are you afraid Of? Allow these people to go.

    3. Mphatso Moses Kaufulu says:

      Bwana Zondiwe,
      if the issues are so easy to fix, why are we not fixing them? You present “simple” solutions that somehow arent “simply” fixing the problems we are struggling with. I fear you have oversimplified these issues… people do not simply seek fundamental changes of government for simple problems with simple solutions…. Its as simple as that.

  25. Mbanangwa says:

    You are talking sense Mphatso. I applaud your independent thought. In the case of Malawi, secession will finally take centre stage after federalism has failed some quarters . We have indeed to be open for all possibilities . In 30 years from now, the centre and north may gladly secede !

    1. Chikopa says:

      Which centre? Centre of Mzimba. MCP is for unity. Chakwera and Kabwira can relocate to Bolero.

      1. kanchenga says:

        Rubbish do you really think the chewas will be comfortable with you lomwes. Let the bwenubwenu go home. You southerners should also go home. All central citizens please come home.

      2. johnM says:

        One thing should be clear, if the Northern region goes, then you should expect that the Central Region will go its way too. I do not expect the Central Region to remain united with the South.

        1. Chikadzakowani says:

          It is futile for proponents of Federalism in the North to try to bring the Central Region to their side. Many of the tribes found in the central region are also found in the South. MCP leadership will find it difficult to sell this idea to people in the central region. The Chewa Paramount Chief is actually based in Chikwawa. You may also have noticed that Nkhoma Synod has not said anything on this issue.

          The North should fight its own battles. As someone recently said, the major problem of Malawi is not where the leaders come from, all our political leaders only know how to line up their pockets. Bad Northern leaders will not turn into angels simply because the country has been split – they will still prey on their fellow citizens. Do you really expect Khumbo to lead differently if he was to be President of the North?

          1. johnM says:

            I do not think MCP is championing federation or succession although certain individuals from MCP have advocated that the country be governed in a federation system of Government and the happen to be from the Central Region. The paramount chief of Chewa is actually in Zambia, Chief Lundu is also a paramount chief but I believe that he is a subordinate to Kalonga Gawa Undi. Where the paramount chief resides is irrelevant in this debate otherwise then the debate would be for the people to unite with their friends in Eastern Zambia and North East Mozambique

            I too, as a person from the Central Region, TA Kayembe, Dowa, I am in total agreement with the suggestion. In the last twenty years, the Chewas have been the most marginalized in the country. Most of the lucrative jobs are going to Southerners. The Central Region and the Southern Region have similar levels of population yet Southerners make up seventy percent of the top Government jobs in the country.

            If some of you think that Southerners look at people from the Central Region as equals then you are hopelessly mistaken.

          2. Inu says:

            I totally agree with Chikadzakowani. It is very unlikely that the central region can follow the northern region in its seccession agenda. I guess we Chewas have looked at Malawi as a whole. The first president was Chewa by the way and ruled Malawi for 31 years and in all those years was based in Blantyre. It was Bingu when he came to power who did some recohnizable facelift of Lilongwe, put a tarmac road to Ntchisi etc. so in fact, if we are to go by what the central region has experienced, I could say that Bingu in his short time contributed significantly to Lilongwe than Kamuzu in comparative terms.

            You will see divisions in the MCP shortly if some guys would want to pursue this issue further, trust me. I know Chakwera, Msowoya and kabwila believe that they are rightful leaders of Malawi and therefore want to govern this country by all means. Yet up to now, there are no strategies to grom the party in the south and north How do we expect to win in 2019 when we cannot put right structures on the ground? This should be our goal, we can easily become forceful national party just as in the one party era

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