PAC statement on Malawi stakeholders forum on federalism and inclusivity

Background

Malawi has seen a growing expression of public opinion and interest in the second   half of  2014 around the value of devolution of  power , and various models thereof, including federalism. All the reasons that would normally be offered for such expression—better access to resources and services, more effective local governance, and the expression of identity—have been put forward.

PAC conference on federalism

PAC conference on federalism

To what extent one or the other may be more valid  or where  Malawi is  with devolution and  how  it should  be taken  forward , is yet unknown, as an empirical analysis of popular needs and demands in this regard has not yet been conducted As part of its work on shuttle diplomacy, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) also received formal submissions on the issues of  inclusivity  and  federalism from representatives of some political parties. Furthermore, the Minister of Information made a public statement encouraging discussion and debate on these issues and asked the PAC and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) to facilitate the conversation and debate.

Therefore, PAC responded to the issue by convening a national stakeholder’s conference on ‘Inclusivity and Federalism in Malawi’. The  conference rationale    was   not  to  determine  whether  Malawi  should  go  federal  or  not  but  to  provide  an  opportunity  where  the  articulated  objectives  could  be  met, in  particular  to  come  up  with  conclusions  by  way  of  a roadmap on  finding  common ground .

PAC  organized  a  National  Stakeholders  Forum  on  Inclusivity  and  Federalism  from 24-25  November, 2014   at  Mount  Soche  Hotel, Blantyre  with  an  overall  goal  to  promote  a  common  understanding on inclusivity  and  federalism thereby reducing  the  potential  for  violent  conflict. The  existing  gaps  noted included : (1) stakeholders  did  not  have  a  common  understanding  regarding  federalism  therefore  it  could remain  a  divisive  tool, (2) the general  public  had  a  feeling  that  federalism  was  tantamount  to  splitting  the  country. In  this  regard, this  activity  served  as  a conflict  prevention  tool.The identified  theme  for  this  event   was “Enhancing  a  common  understanding  on  inclusivity  and  Federalism  in  Malawi”.  In  order  to  address  this  theme, three  presentations  were made – The  History  of  Devolution  in  Malawi ; Comparative  Experiences  on  Federalism ; and  Decentralization – State  of  Affairs  in  Malawi .

PAC  therefore  considered   among  other  sectors  – representatives  from the  academia, faith community, political  parties, Malawi  Congress  of  Trade  Union,  Congoma, Law  Society  of  Malawi, Judiciary, some  traditional  authorities, Civil  Society, NGOGCN, Parliament , and  Executive   Branch to  participate  in  the  deliberations.  Given   the   above   outline, the  specific   objectives  were  as  follows:

  • To promote  common  understanding  on federalism  among  various stakeholders  and  those  who  influence  the  public  by  their  media  comments  on  regular  basis;
  • To locate  the  debate  on  federalism  on  agreed  roadmap   thereby  preventing  violent   conflict  in  Malawi;
  • Provide comparative  experiences  on  federalism  so  that  participants  gain  a  broader  understanding  on  the

Issues identified by the forum as motivating factors to call for federalism

  1. Electoral system

The  Forum  was  of  the  view  that the First-Past – the – Post system promotes winner- takes it- all politics and leads to political exclusion. As  such  demands   for  federalism  may  have  been  necessitated  by  weaknesses  in  the  electoral systems.

Recommendation

Getting rid of the First- Past – the Post electoral system was  seen  as  one  of  the  mechanisms  of  dealing with  post-electoral  tensions in  Malawi. Participants underscored the  need  for  further review and implement recommendations  contained  in  the 2007 Constitutional Review  Report. In this regard ,  participants further advocated for electoral reforms including the requirement for a winning presidential candidate to attain at least 50% of the total votes plus one more vote i.e. the 50%+1 absolute majority in a double ballot electoral process. The  meeting  was  informed  that  MEC  and  MESN had already  set  in  motion  a  process  to  review  the  electoral  law.  In  addition,  participants   recommended  that  a maximum term limit for Members of Parliament be  established.

  1. Social discrimination

Participants  noted  that  Malawi  still  faces  challenges  of  social  discrimination  in  most  social  spheres  based  on  religion, gender  and  disability etc. This  has resulted  into  weak  policy  formulation  and  implementation  coupled  with  weak  social  cohesion  in  the  society.

Recommendation

Participants recommended the  implementation  of   relevant formulae for inclusivity  in  Malawi as  the  current  systems  fail  to  promote  inclusivity. Different  sectors  therefore  were  urged  to  come  up  with  mechanisms  for  improving  inclusivity.

  1. Separation of Powers

Participants  noted  that  doubling as  Members  of  Parliament  and   Cabinet  Ministers  does  not  yield  positive  results  in  Malawi’s  political   scene. The conduct erodes the doctrine of separation of powers which seeks to promote transparency and accountability through the provision of checks and balances among the three branches of government.

Recommendation

The  current  regime  should  expedite  the  constitutional  review  exercise  in  a  consultative  manner  to  ensure  that  most  of  these  contradictions  are  dealt  with.

  1. Big Man syndrome in political parties

In   Malawi’s   political contexts, the “big man” syndrome is associated with ‘presidentialism’.  Participants  noted  that there  is  a pattern in which the patronage powers of the Presidents  are  so  strong  that they effectively affect  the independent effectiveness of other political and state institutions, including political  parties, parliament, the judiciary and the security services.

Recommendation

Political parties should be institutionalized by passing a law that  promotes intra-party democracy, and regulates party funding and auditing. The  conference  further  recommended  that  handouts  should  be  banned in  Malawi.

  1. Regionalism, ethnicity and sectionalism

Participants observed   that regionalism, tribalism and ethnicity pervades all spheres – including the job markets and  in  most  institutions. Each of the political parties is strongly dependent on ethnic affiliation for support. In view of his, ethnic/tribal politics continue to erode national cohesion. Tribalism in the job market permeates all strata of government employment (civil service), civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, and  youth movement.

Recommendation

There  were  strong  suggestions  that  the  current regional demarcations  be  abolished  to  deal  with  deep-rooted  perceptions  among  the  three  regions. It  was  felt  that  the regional  demarcations  as  defined  were   contributing   to  regionalism and  tribalism, hence  calls  for  federalism. It  was  further  suggested  that  Malawi  should introduce  Senate  for  the sake  of  inclusivity  and  social  cohesion.

  1. Discontinuity of development projects across political regimes

As  has  been  in  the case  in the  previous  PAC  conferences, participants  re-iterated  that Malawi  has seen  several  policy   developments  and  planned  reforms  over  the  past years  but  most  of  these  have  not  effectively  operated  for  lack  of  mechanisms   to  insulate  them  against  constant  changes by  different  regimes. So  too  reforms  have  been  initiated  in  different  sectors  but  have  not  yielded  results. Each  leadership  has  proposed  new  policies while  some  good  existing  policy  reforms  remain  in shelves  of  different  sectors. This  has  led  to  politicization  of   developmental   initiatives  which  if  they  had  been   insulated  against  partisan  politics  Malawi  should  have  benefited. This , therefore , leads  to  uneven  development  in  the  country.

Recommendation

Participants  felt  that  insulating policies  should   be  done  sooner  rather  than  later  given  that  most  presidential  candidates  committed  themselves  to  this  agenda. Therefore, the current  regime  should create a Permanent  Planning Commission backed  by  an  Act  of  Parliament to  concretize  this  recommendation. This  would  help  to  define  and  protect  a  national  vision  of  Malawi  from  politicization.

  1. Unequal distribution of resources and development across regions

Participants  noted  that  Malawi  was  still  experiencing  unequal  distribution  of  resources  in  all  the  regions despite the introduction  of  multi-party  system  of  government , and  that  there  was  unsatisfactory  service  delivery  at  national , regional  and  local  levels.

Recommendation

Review the formula for allocating   5% of the national budget to Local Government Councils so that a higher (at least 20%   proportion) is allocated to Councils.

ACTIONS    FOR   CONSIDERATION   IN   A   ROAD MAP

Participants  identified  the  following  action  points  to  be  considered  by  way  of  conclusion  on  the  roadmap:

  1. Creation  of  a Task Force  to outline a road map  that    detail  how  the  conversation  on  federalism  should  proceed.  It   was   further suggested  that the road map should include  legal  reforms.
  2. Dissemination of information on inclusivity and federalism should be  undertaken  with a multi-sectoral approach
  3. There is need for more and better media engagement to disseminate information, civic-educate people   at  various  levels  of  society
  4. PAC should give feedback on the process to the Head of State  so  that  he  is well-informed  about  what  is  going  on.
  5. The process should be more inclusive – especially youth   and  women  should  be  included etc.
  6. There is need for a round table discussion on federalism involving proponents and opponents.

CONCLUSION

Following  the  national  stakeholders  forum,   the  debate  will  be  more  structured  and  federalism will  not  be  seen  as  a  divisive  tool  in  our  society. During  second day  of  the  conference  participants  were  able  to  provide   some  driving  factors  that  agitate  the  call  for  federalism,   and based  on  the  presentations  made  during  the  two-day  conference, participants may have  appreciated some  basics  on  federalism . In order  to  deal  with  issues  identified   above  in  this  statement,  reforms  in  the  economic, public   and  governance  sectors  should  be  linked.

Any  reform  operating  in  isolation  is  likely  to  fail  unless  it  feeds and  benefits  from  other  reform initiatives. It  is  clear  from  the  Forum  that  Federalism  was  seen  as  a completely  different  idea  separate  from  devolution.

As  PAC , we note  that  federalism  is  a  system  of  government  that  re-enforces  devolution.  Malawi  needs  to  radically  reform  the  governance  architecture  if  Malawi  is to  develop  in  the  next  50  years. PAC  will  continue  to  make  its  contribution  by  way  of  enhancing  public  dialogue  on  issues  of  constitutional  review, electoral  reforms  and  devolution,  including  federalism.

As  regards the  time frame  within  which the  debate  on federalism  will be  concluded, the  availability  of  funds  for  such a  constructive  debate  will dictate  the  pace. PAC  will not  be  moved  by  emotions  but  will  follow  a  process  approach. Therefore  the  National  Stakeholders  Forum  is  just  one  of the  activities  that  will  be  implemented  to  determine  the  position  on  federalism  as  was  indicated  in a  notice  in the Daily  Newspapers  prior  to  the  event.

 

Signed   by: the Very Rev.  Dr.  Felix   Chingota PAC CHAIRPERSON

 Fr.  Peter   Mulomole PAC PUUBLICITY SECRETARY

 

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23 thoughts on “PAC statement on Malawi stakeholders forum on federalism and inclusivity”

  1. Nkwanda Wilson says:

    FAILED POLITICIANS ARE ADVOCATING FOR THIS NONSENSE OF FEDERALISM. THE NORTH HAS ITS OWN STRUCTURES THERE LIKE MZ C H, MZUNI, MOYALE BARR, GIVE THEM WHAT THEY DESERVE. NORTHERNERS ARE ALWAYS NOISY. ANGOUNJIKANA KU CENTRAL AND SOUTH, THEY HAVE FULL DEVELOPED THESE REGIONS, THEY BUILT MANSION HOUSES WITH CASHGATED MONIES, BWANJI IWOWA SAMAKAMANGA KWAWO AKAPATA MAKHOBIDI AWOWO. ATUMBUKA MWAKHAZIKIKA KUNO AND YET YOU SAY NO DEVLOPMENT IN NORTH. JUST DIVIDE AS WAS THE CASE WITH SUDAN. FROM 2011, THE COUNTRY GOT DIVIDED THERE IS SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN. DO THE SAME HERE, OTHERWISE A LOT OF RESOURCES WILL BE WASTED, DISCUSSING THIS NONSENSE ISSUE, IN THE END NO CONSENSUS WILL BE REACHED, COZ ATUMBUKAWA AMANGA KALE CHIMODZI, OLO ANTHU AKAMBIRANE SIZIPHULA KANTHU. NOTHERNERS APITE KAYE KWAWO KU NORTH, THEN KUYENDERANA TIDZACHITE KUKUYAMBA AFTER MA PASSPORT NDI ZINA, SIMPLE. THERE ARE TOO MANY IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR, PRIVATE SECTOR AS WELL. ONSEWO ACHOKE APITE KWAWO. ANTHUWA AKUYANG’ANA KU POLITICS KOKHA, KOMA AKAMWAZA MASO KU MA SECTORS ENA, AKANAONA KUTI ADZADZANAKO NDI MA POSITIONS ABWINO. ANTHUWA ANALEPHERA ZISANHKO, ASATIPUTSITSE APA, NDIYE ALI NDI MKWIYO WAUKULU. SHUPITI AKAGWERE.

    1. Enough says:

      Kodi anthu ngati inu a nkwanda simumanvesa kuti ku noth kuno timakhalira limodzi ndi anthu ochuluka ochokela ku mwera ndi pakati. Olima fodya ku rumphi ndi ku mzimba ndi ochokela ku phalombe, mulanje, thyolo. Mavenda pafupi onse ndi akui mwera/pakati. Ku mzuni kwazaza ophunzira a kwanuko malinga ndi kota. Ana anu ali tho ku NB sec ndi mzuzu sec. Ogwila ntchito mu ma company ndi mu boma ochokela kwanu ali mbwee kuno ku north. Ndiye samalani mumaganizo anuwo. Mwamva?

  2. Timveso nde ndani tangochisiyani,

  3. o says:

    I am looking forward to a day when tumbukas will tell me why they are advocating for federalism and not secession of the north. When you ask them “Why are you going for federalism and not for secession of the north?” They call you sorts of names since what they know are threats and abusive language. They have never attempted to answer that question. Yet they say they want autonomous control of themselves. Secession will make you free friends. Go for the secession of the north. Of course I know you cannot. As we everybody knows that a parasite cannot leave its host voluntarily. Sorry for this, but truth has be said anyway.

    1. Kanthu Ako! says:

      Which Northerners? Northerners from Thyolo?

      A Northerner worth of his/her salt can not refuse secession. Don’t lie to make cheap regionalistic points.

  4. Maganizo says:

    hahahahaha. in the ind the Federalist have been hit below their bellies! I love it that way. kikikikiki. best thing, form your government and leave us alone. “umadalira nsomba koma tamva kuti nsomba zanu zayamba kolera zikungofa. Mulungu akufuna akuphunzitseni kanthu. your case falls flat on its belly. a bwampini inu eti?

  5. CHEWA FEDERAL FRONT says:

    My friend Timve, you want all Tumbukas to go home(Nyika); what about me, a Chewa person, currently resident in Welensky’s City?
    Should I also pack my bags and head to my Dzalanyama State? Ha ha ha.
    I love it here in Welensky, so, as a survival strategy, I’m considering taking a Mulakho or Yao wife. Surely, you wouldn’t chase me after that.
    Now, PAC is gotta be serious. Throughout this document they look like they are against Federalism, yet in their conclusion they’ve said “PAC will not be moved by emotions…” This is a bizarre statement in the light of of what Professor Chisi once observed regarding “emotions in the north”.

  6. Jelbin mk says:

    It’s cleansing Mr Timve not cleasing ooh u don’t use a computer coz if u did it could underline with red ink, anyway komansi ndiumbuli wakowo computer

  7. Kadakwiza says:

    I think for the North Malawians who suggested this federal system, they beter fight for secession. North Malawians they beter debate secession or unity not federalism. Secession is the only option for North Malawians. Federalism will take time to be implemented by then north Malawians will be crying for development (Njalo). My opinion is Unity or secession government. Federalism will not work in Malawi.. The country is poor. If the government is relying on budget support from donors to pay civil servants, what more four provisional governments. I don’t think federalism can work in Malawi. Unity, Central system of governments are perfect for Malawi. To end all these madness, Malawians need civic education so they don’t vote for tribal lines rather policies for the party they are voting for. Also Malawians must deal with any politician or leader who has policies of dividing the country buy voting him or her out, ONE MALAWI ONE NATION. Case closed.

  8. Kenkkk says:

    Timve at no.1, you are typical dpp diehard supporter, uneducated and ignorant or if educated typically behaves like the uneducated, never seen a classroom door!!! PAC have produced something that tries to please everyone but you still don’t get it. That doesn’t mean all people agree with PAC findings but it is a step in the right direction, better than the confusions that followed the federalism issue and better nothing at all.

    Your blatant tribalism ego will carry you nowhere, just do what you want to do and you will see what will follow!!! Just carry out your threats if you mean business, talk is cheap man or woman!!! NIKE SAYS JUST DO IT!!!

  9. Chabecheker says:

    Indeed the advantages of federalism in bringing nationalism ,efficient delivery of services and inclusivity in a democratic country like malawi outweigh the disadvantages that have been floated on the forum

  10. Kikikiki says:

    Dare you try mother f**cker, you’ll regret big time. You useless tosser. Who do you think, you’re? Stinky dick head!!

  11. Tuyuni says:

    Iwe Timve, kaya ndi chifukwa chosapita ku sukulu, iweyo ukuona kuti atumbuka atabwelera kwao, alhomweso kwao angabvutike ndani? Waiwala kuti North inadalitsidwa mu zonse ? Chakudya, manyumba abwino mu ma midzi, malo ambiri , Sukulu, kudziwa zinthu msanga (utsogoleri oipa mu boma timayamba kuona ndife ,enanu mumatsutsa kenaka ndipamene nanunso mumabvomeredza). Kubereka kokha ndikumene mumatiposa.

  12. Chief Zion says:

    Thanks PAC for z comments and recommendations but plz try to speed up z process bcoz someonesomewhere might derail z whole process bcoz zikuwaopsa kwambiri,God bless mother Malawi

  13. pent says:

    The cost of living is really becomimg very very exobitant. How can we rectify the problem? That, I think is something wealth discussing not the garbage. Federalism nde chani

    1. Maganizo says:

      sure

  14. Peter Mpandamano Mutharika says:

    Iwe Timve (Number 1) or what you call yourself you need to start by transferring all Lhomwes working in tobacco estates in Central and northern regions and chikangawa. Otherwise you will pay heavily for the violence you want to initite sponsored by Nicholas Dausi.

  15. Pada says:

    Malawi a confused state. God should lead us nor human thinking

  16. mgwantha says:

    Sivuto achewanso kumpoto ndiye muwapezele kokawaika

  17. padoko says:

    Congratulations for a nuetral but very positive contributions to what Malawi needs most, federslism

  18. ujeni says:

    Now will see all dunderheads posting silly comments about federation, yet the go to South Africa to shop a country which has Federal government, they cry to have some US dollars yet USA is a Federal country, they support English Premier League teams yet UK is made up of 4 countries with some devolved powers. Umbulu is a disease and it is in abundance in Malawi. I can add Australia to the list of countries which have states but heck majority of Malawians are fools they wont grasp or understand a thing.

  19. TIMVE says:

    By 1 jan 15 all tumbukas should pack up and go home. we will take advantage of the 13 january demos to start the cleasing.

    1. MSANA WA PETURO says:

      Iwe TIMVE, you are deceiving yourself. Tumbukas have foresight. They don’t support idiots as you do even if that idiot belongs to their tribe. Infact TUMBUKAS are naturally brave and courageous. If you want to prove this mudzayesere kuaputa pamandemopo. You will see the damage they will inflict on your tribe. Ndiochepa koma alibe mantha. Mudzapweteketsa anthu a mtundu wanu. Let us just join in prayer for peace. Your tribalistic statements will not take you anywhere. Muwonda nazo nsanje ndi tribalism yanuyo. Face facts and reality when commenting and be OBJECTIVE. Ndakuchenjezani, musadzadabwe zimene zidzakuonekereni mukadzaaputa dala aTUMBUKA anuwo.

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