Malawi government has issued a statement to reject remarks by the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima who described government’s decision to abolish the quota system of selecting students to public universities as deceptive and copying his UTM Party manifesto.
Chilima told a rally in Mzuzu on Sunday that his UTM Party has been condemning the system over the years and that government was “copying” UTM manifesto to abolish the quota system.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Thursday announced the abolition of the quota system of selecting students into public universities based on their district of origin, instead of merely merit.
And reacting to Chilima’s remarks, Minister of Information, Civic Education and communication Technology, Mark Botomani issued a media statement on Monday saying abolition of quota system is a result of “wide consultative” processes that Ministry of Education took with key stakeholders.
In addition, Botomani, who is also Malawi government spokesperson, said the abolition of quota system follows several developments that will ensure more student spaces in tertiary institutions than before.
Information minister Botomani advises the State Vice President that “the policy shifts are a product of a long process of consultation and research taken by the government.”
Government spokesperson said vice-president Chilima was aware of the consultative process.
“Further, government would like to remind Dr Chilima and the UTM that quota system was a national policy and not a regional policy,” said Botomani.
In the statement, government says policy changes are not campaign tools and that the possibility of a fresh presidential election does not mean that government business has come to a halt.
“Malawi has a functional government with a President and Cabinet. Government will continue to function and serve Malawians in their best interest,” said Botomani.
The move to abolish quota system — which critics claimed suppressed minorities, especially those from the Northern Region—has won President Peter Mutharika’s administration cautious praise from the policy’s abolition proponents who are worried that the decision could just be a tactic to attract the Northern Region vote ahead of the fresh presidential polls.
Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), one of the fierce critics of the system, said it welcomes the news, but it will take a wait-and-see position to monitor implementation.
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