Calls for North Malawi to be State attracts mixed views: UDF blast PP

United Democratic Front (UDF) has trashed calls by former ruling People’s Party (PP) to have northern region as a standalone State [North Malawi like South Sudan], saying such calls are “irrational.”

PP provincial governor for the North, Christopher Mzomera Ngwira has said Northern Region needs “secession” and not federal government.

Ndanga: Irrational  call by PP
Ndanga: Irrational call by PP
Ngwira:  North Malawi should be its own country
Ngwira: North Malawi should be its own country

Ngwira, according to The Nation, voiced the stand after meeting the former ruling party’s leaders from districts and constituencies in the North at his office in Mzuzu for the first time since the May 20 Tripartite Elections.

“Northerners do not need a federal State, but secession. Tingogawanapo basi. The North should be allowed to have its own nation and flag as well as to celebrate its own heroes and set its own agenda,” Ngwira is quoted as saying.

His remarks drew mixed views with UDF trashing PP stand.

“These are misguided statements not befitting people who claim to be leaders,” UDF spokesman Ken Ndanga told Nyasa Times in an interview.

“As a former governing party the Peoples Party should be promoting national unity and not divisions. The PP should at all cost refrain from making statements that are divisive because Malawi has been one nation even during the time before independence.

“It is completely irrational that any sane leader should be advocating secession in Malawi now and we appeal to all Malawians of good will to reject these misguided proposals,” said Ndanga.

Private practice lawyer Wapona Kita also lashed at Ngwira for secession plans.

“I am from the north, but this idea of the northern region ceding from Malawi or its sister idea of Malawi becoming a federal state is something I am just failing to buy,” Kita said in a message posted on his Facebook page.

Federalism proponent and now ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operative, Ben Chiza Mkandawire also opposed the secession idea.

“Let’s talk federalism not secession. If we seceded from Malawi what are we going to call ourselves? It is misleading to think Northern Region by itself can become a country, what we need is development, it has been neglected for a long time but the opportunities are there now for the North to develop, one of them is the possibility of a federal constitution,” argued Chiza Mkandawire.

Mkandawire said what Mzomera Ngwira is promoting “won’t benefit Northerners in the long term, and looking at economic benefits, we need to further understand that Malawi is a nation, what we should demand is the equal distribution of wealth for all Malawians.”

He added: “Wealth distribution within a system that does not give central government too much power, so the only way to succeed in making sure we are not creating a few Instant billionaires from one tribe or region is to further push for the devolution of powers then a federal constitution based on the success of all the devolved structures.”

But Ngwira argues that any federal system would leave “a lagging North controlled, financed and audited by the same hands that have often sidelined it when it comes to public appointments and development projects”.

A  political commentator Charles Simango calls Ngwira’s stand as “a cry for fairness.”

“Our electoral system is strongly pitted against the North, highly favours the South with some slim chance for the Centre. The fact remains that the outcome of our elections has always been based on regional lines and the winner tends to favour people from his or her region for positions and contracts. That is no secret at all,” Simango told Nyasa Times in an internet interview on Monday.

“The question is whether and how to make our electoral system into a fair and just system. May be secession is a strong proposition but had I been from the North I certainly would have been feeling short-changed too and I would have been making a lot of noise. If you are from the North you cannot be a President – period. And that is not a good position to be in. It’s like being a second class citizen in your own country,” added Simango.

There Have been widespread calls for amending the electoral law on electing a Head of State from the current first-past-the-post and adopt a 50 per cent plus one law to ensure that the winner of presidential elections enjoyed majority support.

Where in a general election there is no candidate  who gather 50 percent, there should be a run off for the top two candidates to determine the winner.

DPP leader Peter Mutharika was declared the winner of Malawi’s May 20 disputed presidential election after defeating PP candidate former  president Joyce Banda.

Mutharika, the brother of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, took 36.4 percent of the votes cast, Lazarus Chakwera of MCP garnered 27.8 percent of the vote and Banda’s 20.2 percent.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has said amending electoral law is “not a priority” for the Mutharika administration.

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