Malawi President Peter Mutharika has denied reports that he previously proposed federalism and proportional representation in the country, describing them as two possible ways of doing away with concerns of regional marginalisation.
Addressing the National Constitutional Review Conference in Lilongwe, held from 28 to 31 March 2006 titled ‘Towards a More Manageable Constitution, Mutharika, then professor at Washington University School of Law in USA, publicly proposed federalism while addressing the issue of national unity.
Mutharika hosted Malawi media practitioners to a dinner at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Tuesday and said he has never been pro-federalism.
“I have never supported federalism. I came here as a consultant on the constitution asked to comment on a number of proposals such as revolving the Presidency [among the three regions], federalism and proportional of representation. I talked about all of the [three proposals] and how they could be applied to the context of Malawi,” said Mutharika.
He stated: “What I said in the case of Malawi was that one way would be to abolish the regional boundaries. For the three regions are not geographically equal in size. In fact the regions have no legal meaning as they are not mentioned in the constitution.
“What I said, against this background, was to abolish the regions and use the 28 districts as the first administrative units. In that way we could be empowering people while effecting decentralisation. But I did not support federalisation”.
In the paper he presented in 2006, Mutharika claims that proportional representation worked well in countries like Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius, urging Malawians to borrow the leaf from those countries.
Making a case on the federal system of government, Mutharika also used the Nigerian government, saying “Another and perhaps more radical response (are) to simply abolish the three regions and create the district as the basic administrative unit.”
The paper says Nigeria successfully resolved the problems that were created by the existence of its three regions at the time of independence in 1960 into what are now 36 States and one federal territory.
“While the initial decision to abolish the regions led to war, Nigeria is now a much more unified and stable country,” he said.
Information, Tourism and Culture Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa recently said government would ask the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and other stakeholders to facilitate debate on the matter.
Meanwhile, PAC has resolved to hold a a national stakeholders forum on inclusivity and federalism November 24 and 25 under theme ‘Enhancing a Common Understanding on Inclusivity and Federalism in Malawi.
The conference will engage speakers on federalism from abroad, in particular from countries practising the principle.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :