A pressure group in Mzuzu, agitating for adoption of federal system of government in the country, has given a seven-day ultimatum to President Peter Mutharika to explain why debate on the topic, which he promised to happen on political podia, have not yet taken place or else they will hold demonstrations.
Chairperson of the pressure group, calling itself ‘Movement for Federalism’, Harris Kanyeremuka told Nyasa Times that they had petitioned the President to make sure discussions to be orchestrated by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on the matter start but nothing has happened.
“It is a while since delivered the petition to follow up on the issue with the president’s office,” said Kanyeremuka.
According to Kanyeremuka, much as Mutharika gave mandate to PAC to facilitate the debate countrywide it was not given a timeframe within which to work in.
“Because of lack of a timeframe the issue [of federalism] may die a natural death, which we don’t want,” he said.
Kanyeremuka further told Nyasa Times that when they contacted PAC, they were told that Committee does not have funding.
“It is this silence that has prompted us to plan of demonstrations in all districts in the northern region should government not give us a response in the next seven days. Our motive is to deliver a petition to the president through district councils,” he said.
Some of the points in the petition which Nyasa Times has seen include immediate commencement of civic education on federalism and giving timeframe for federalism debate.
“We want people to be given a chance whether to have a referendum on the matter or not,” added Kanyeremuka.
Malawi is currently a unitary centralized state, one where there is one central law-making body and one executive or government.
According to this time of government, all parts of the State have the same laws, which are administered and implemented by the same institutions.
Lawmaker Christopher Ngwira is regarded as campaigner of federalism debate in the country for introducing the issue in parliament about a year ago.
And the Forum for the Advancement of a federal system of government in Malawi has warned that they will be forced to hold vigils if the executive will not respond favourably to their petition on the issues of their proposition and rotational presidency.
The forum led by Dr Bina Shaba is arguing that the current unitary system has failed to develop the majority of Malawians and wants to either split the country or change the system of government.
Rights activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire argued that a centralized government “appears remote and lacks legitimacy in the sense that people do not feel properly consulted nor that their consent has been given.”
Shaba the current chairperson for the forum and its secretary Patrick Mwale, said the forum wants government to allow Malawians decide in switching on the federal system or remain with the status quo.
The pressure group wants people to decide the issues through a regional vote then a national referendum.
“A federal system of government would ensure that resources trickle down to people on the ground and they would be given a chance to make their own development priorities,” said Mwale.
Mwale said that in the event that other regions are against a federal system of government then the northern region should secede and be a standalone country.
President Peter Mutharika is on record to have touted federalism as way to go for Malawi in 2006.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :