State House wishes to unequivocally present His Excellency the State President Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika’s position on federalism as follows.
President Mutharika has on more than one occasion said that he would not stop anyone from advocating for federalism because he believes in freedom of expression which is enshrined in our Republican Constitution. He also has emphasized that he would love to see a healthy debate on the calls for federalism.
According to the President, what is important is that the outcome of the whole debate should be what is in the best interest of Malawians.
In this regard, his emphasis is that those advocating for federalism should do so in an honest manner and without selfish ulterior motives which could lead to societal disintegration.
The President is of the view that it is up to Malawians to decide on what is in the best interest of our country or a particular region.
Our national interests are defined by a number of aspects such as economic interests, social interests, political interests and other aspects which define our national identity as Malawians.
During the 2006 Constitutional Review Conference President Mutharika, then, Professor of Law at Washington School of Law, was invited by the Law Commission to be one of the consultants and speakers at the National Review Conference.
It is worth noting that during the conference President Mutharika was only providing alternatives and suggestions as someone being consulted in a personal capacity to provide his scholarly views on proposals for reviewing the Republican Constitution.
As is the case at such conferences, views such as the ones presented by President Mutharika and everybody else were subject and open for debate and were not definitive, prescriptive or conclusive but were to be taken as mere suggestions that should be debated on.
In his presentation entitled Towards a More Manageable Constitution, President Mutharika proposed rotational presidency, federalism and proportional representation as three possible ways of addressing concerns about regional marginalization.
He tackled and reacted to various issues under the three main themes of the Conference namely:
(a) Make Good Governance the underlying purpose of the Malawi Constitution;
(b) Provide objective principles which do not target individuals or groups for reward or punishment; and
(c) Select the most appropriate areas for inclusion in the Constitution and also choose which ones should go to the Legislature.
Within the context of these discussions, President Mutharika reacted to various scenarios presented by Consultation Papers made available at the conference. The President’s views were not prescriptive. He was not advocating for Rotational Presidency, Proportional Representation or Federalism. The President made an expert scholarly presentation by simply outlining the various models available to Malawians, from which delegates to the constitutional conference could make informed decisions.
In his presentation, the President proposed that the three regions could be abolished because they were created just for colonial administrators’ convenience but they are not of geographical importance.
President Mutharika’s suggestion was that once the three regional administrative districts are abolished then the district could be created as the basic administrative unit.
However, Malawi embraced decentralization as a model of fast-tracking local governance and local development, and it is the President’s belief that essentially this must provide more decision power to people.
Therefore, it is the President’s wish that as the nation is debating federalism, we should also deeply consider the gains that this nation can make if we collectively choose to strengthen the decentralization process.
The President remains committed to a healthy debate on the issue of federalism and allowing Malawians to decide on the matter.
However, the President will do this within the context and against the background of an oath that he took to protect the laws and the Constitution of the country.
The President has got a constitutional mandate to uphold and safeguard our national sovereignty which is critical to our national unity.
His presentation at the 2006 conference is consistent with the President’s current position which calls for stakeholders to debate the issues of Federalism freely and honestly.
Presidential Press Secretary