Chihana insists Malawi need federalism, rubbishes DD Phiri’s talk

Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Enock Chakufwa Chihana has rubbished Desmond Dudwa (DD) Phiri – a renowned local economic commentator and columnist – on his sentiments that Malawi “cannot” adopt a federal system of government because of its “small size.”

Phiri, a graduate of the London School of Economics, was in the papers Tuesday arguing that other African countries where federalism works pretty well are large enough as compared to Malawi. He cited such countries as Tanzania, Mozambique and West African’s Nigeria.

But Chihana, who is also the only Member of Parliament (MP) for his party in the national assembly, laughed off Phiri’s argument in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times saying “it’s not about how large a country but the effectiveness of using regions in sharing national resources.”

Chihana said Malawi will continue to wallow in abject poverty and under-development 50 years after independence if it fails to consider a federalized system of government.

Federalism is a system of government is which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units such as states or provinces.

The young Chihana, son to celebrated political tsar and freedom fighter Chakufwa Chihana, said the country must quickly go into a system that will see the four regions in the country having their own governors.

Chihana: Federal system is now needed in Malawi
Chihana: Federal system is now needed in Malawi

“In that way, all people will feel accommodated. Development will be distributed evenly,” he said.

He added: “It is not that I’m raising this issue for sensational purposes, no. This is the only way to go for our country as it will ensure effective decentralization.”

Chihana cited, for instance, Mutharika’s new 20-member cabinet – which has more than 95 per cent of its members from the South, 3 from the North and 1 from the Central – saying there is no way such a cabinet can ensure equitable distribution of development.

“When some of those go to the north, they are literal strangers. There is no way they can represent the hopes and aspirations of the people there.

“But if there would be a governor there, surely such a person would be able to aptly go about issues that directly affect the people,” explained Chihana.

He described the country’s current unitary centralized system – where there is one law making and one executive or government – as “a failed affair.”

According to him, a consultation project has been rolled out so that views are sought on the pros and cons of introducing the system in the country.

Then after, he said, he will “table the matter at the next sitting of parliament in September.”


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