President Peter Mutharika has been asked through a petition to him presented to Mzuzu City acting Chief Executive Officer, Victor Masina, who is expected to forward it to the Office of the President and Cabinet, to ensure a smooth process of national referendum to ask citizens whether to adopt or not the federal system of government.
The petition was presented after a peaceful demonstration in Mzuzu City on Friday which was organised Forum for the Advancement of Federal System and Rural Development in Malawi.
The organisers said they want to end what they believe as ‘high regionalism by most of the country’s Presidents who have been coming from the southern region.
The advocates for the federal system who include pressure groups from the north, Parliamentarians and development commentators also feel that federalism would bring development competition among the three regions, since the regions would be able to plan for the most needed developments in their areas unlike now when all the decisions are made by the central government.
President Mutharika mandated the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the issue before a decision could be made.
There has been shoddy progress so far.
Forum for Federal System in Malawi secretary general Harris Kanyeremuka warned their forum would “hold national vigils” shouldn’t there be nothing after the demonstrations.
The forum want change of unitary system to federal system of government and have since given Mutharika 40 days to address 15 issues highlighted in their petition.
“We want to tell you Mr. President that we are marching because we are tired of waiting for a response from you. We are also tired of a system of governance that has been slow to deliver for the past 51 years,” reads the petition signed by Bina Shaba, Kanyeremuka and Vailet Nyirenda, chairperson, secretary general and treasurer general for the forum respectively.
The protesters also noted that President Mutharika favoured federal system of government when he was consultant to the Special Constitutional Review Conference where he presented a paper.
The forum raised issues surrounding segregation and discrimination, road infrastructure in the North, status of Mzuzu City, education, and appointments in government and recognition of heroes from the North.
They also complained about poor road network in the region saying despite campaign promises to upgrade some of them like the Edingeni-Euthini-Mpherembe- Nyika-Nthalire-Chitipa road, nothing has been done.
They also queried why Mzuzu City gets a little budget of around K1 billion when other cities get as high as K2.2 billion as is the case in the 2015/2015 national budget.
Initially, the calls for government to adopt federalism started with few individuals from the country’s northern region in 2011, following a public outcry that the then president, late Bingu Wa Mutharika, brother to the current president, Peter, was oppressing the region in terms of development.
For instance, Mutharika imposed a quota system policy of selecting students to public colleges; rather, than on merit, after he noted that most learners from the north were dominating public universities through the Ministry of Education’s merit selection system.
Several quarters also accuse the incumbent President of supporting regionalism and nepotism by promoting people from his region and particularly his Lomwe tribe in public offices such as cabinet ministers, chief executives for parastatal institutions and other government departments.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :