Member of Parliament for Mzimba Hora, Rev. Christopher Mzomera Ngwira Wednesday sparked controversy in Parliament when he proposed that there should be Constitutional amendment to provide for a rotational system of choosing the President among Malawi’s three regions.
The House was deliberating on Bill 34 of 2016: National Parks and Wildlife Amendment and Ngwira in his contributions questioned as to how long the country would continue electing Presidents from the Southern region.
“We are having a very big problem in Malawi since the other part or regions feel that they are being side-lined when we talk of development in this country. This is so because the issue of nepotism, regionalism and indeed tribalism is very high,” said Ngwira a known pro-federalism advocate.
He said to wipe out nepotism, the country should have Presidents rotating from each region.
“I think the best way is to come up with a deliberate policy to amend some laws which will definitely see such quarters feeling as if they are part of this nation. For example, the laws that we have in Malawi will definitely guard the nation, this House and the members of the public to
“The positions which are prominent in the country like Reserve Bank Governor, we should come up with a law that will guide the House and Malawians on appointments. For example, if the Reserve Bank Governor comes from the centre, the next one should come from the north. Even when we talk of the Presidency, there should be rotation of Presidency,” said Ngwira.
Founding president of Malawi, Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda was a Chewa from central region district of Kasungu who ruled for 31 years. Banda was succeeded by Bakili Muluzi, a Yao from eastern region district of Machinga who governed Malawi for 1994 to 2004.
Then Muluzi’s handpicked successor Bingu wa Mutharika, a Lhomwe from southern region district of Thyolo ruled up 2012 when he died in power , succeeded by Joyce Banda a Yao from eastern region district of Zomba.
Banda was defeated in 2014 elections by incumbent Peter Mutharika, a Lomwe from Thyolo in southern district.
Mzomera Ngwira’s remarks of rotational presidency irked First Deputy Speaker, Easter Mcheka Chilenje, who accused the member of commenting on issues off-track to the wildlife bill.
“Honourable member we are debating about Bill 34 amendments and would you please concentrate on that,” Chilenje said.
Mzomera Ngwira kept on talking: “There should be rotation of presidency, if the President is coming from the south, next time north … we are talking of amendment of bills and laws in this august House and we should also be able to amend those laws which are favouring one side of the country where only one family seems to be fit for the office of the President that is what I am saying.”
He voiced out that the time was ripe for Malawians to stop the dominance of the big ethnic groups in leadership.
“We should give a chance to other regions too to produce the President
That is what I am saying! Give a chance to other regions as well. We should have a Presidential rotation in the country. We should not allow only people from one place. Understand what I am saying. It’s the only way we can deal with the nepotism — It is not fair, it is not fair,” ranted Mzomera Ngwira.
The Deputy Speaker warned the MP that she was going to boot him out of the House.
“I will invoke standing order 105,” Chilenje warned.
Part of the standing order gives the Speaker the power to send out of the House any member who shows rudeness to the authority and distracts debate.
“You have deliberately disrupted the business of the House. You know that when a Member is given the floor, you are only entitled to five minutes. I gave you extra two minutes. You have spoken for over seven minutes and you continuously and persistently disrupted business deliberately for no apparent reason at all. I don’t know what your intention is. I therefore rule you out of order and this should be your last warning. If you do that again, I am going to invoke Standing Order 105,” Mcheka- Chilenje said.
In an interview with Nyasa Times later, Ngwira said Malawi should emulate plurilingual societies such as Switzerland where diversity in the political system is accepted, rotational presidency was introduced to accommodate cultural differences, diverse interests and demands.
He said elsewhere rotational presidency system has brought stability, cohesion, equity and pluralism , citing Nigeria’s ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, which adopted the presidential rotation in a truncated manner.
Mzomera said the presidential rotation system would have far-reaching effects in addressing ethnic rivalries, competition and hostility in Malawi.
“It will also bring order in the way scarce resources are managed and utilised for the benefit of all. There will be little feeling of ‘winner-take all’ since in the end all will be winners,” he said.
Mzomera said Malawi deserves a system that addresses people’s fears, frustrations, emotions and fundamental needs – and that is rotational presidency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :