A two-day national stakeholders forum organised by Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on inclusivity and federalism, aimed at enhancing common understanding of federalism, commenced on Monday in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre.
The conference whose theme is ‘Enhancing a Common Understanding on Inclusivity and Federalism in Malawi’ has attracted representatives from academia, faith community, political parties, Malawi Congress of Trade Union, Congoma, Malawi Law Society, the judiciary, some traditional authorities, Civil society, Parliament and executive branc.
PAC Chairperson Reverend Dr Felix Chingota said the forum will allow people who hold different views on federalism to share a common platform and also gain a deeper appreciation of the idea of devolution.
Chingota said there is a gap in appreciating how federalism fits into devolution exercise.
He said while debate on federalism is a welcome development in the country, there lacks a constructive coordinated approach to enhance conversation on the matter in parts of the country.
“Several vices have been noted ranging from nepotism, regionalism and tribalism to lack of basic understanding on the concept itself and how it works.
“Many commentators have made their positions without appreciating the different forms of federalism. If unchecked this could result into violent conflict and polarisation of the country,” said Chingota.
Chingota further said the 2014 post-electoral period has also witnessed calls and demands from various quarters to review the Constitution and electoral laws.
“In view of this, enhancing debate on federalism in timely manner is critical because within the process we may discover aspects that could feed into legal reforms within the existing framework,” said Chingota.
He then said the aim of the event was to promote common understanding on federalism among its stakeholders and those who influence the public by their media comments on regular basis; to locate the debate on federalism on agreed roadmap thereby preventing violent conflict; and provide comparative experiences on federalism so that participants gain a broader understanding on the matter.
The forum will discuss three topics- ‘The History of Devolution in Malawi’, ‘Comparative Experience on Federalism’, and Decentralisation-State of Affairs in Malawi’.
Presenting a paper on conceptual framework on the State, Dr Henry Chingaipe shared historical development of devolution since the introduction of multiparty government.
While Dr Willie Samute, former Programme Manager, Decentralisation Secretariat, highlighted why Malawi chose district focus on devolution rather than regional focus.
Other speakers include Dr Milton Kutengule and Professor Assefa Fiseha, Centre for Federal Studies, College of Law and Governance, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
Kutengule will talk about decentralisation with emphasis on strides so far made in the implementation of decentralisation policy while Professor Fiseha will present paper on ‘federalism and challenges of nation States’.
The participants will come up with conclusions by way of a roadmap to define how the conversation on federalism should be taken towards finding a common ground for all Malawians.
Notable participants include former Vice President Justin Malewezi, former speaker Henry Chimunthu, Speaker Richard Msowoya Inkosi Gomani of Ntcheu, parliamentarian Ralph Jooma, Petra President Kamuzu Chibambo and National Salvation Front President James Nyondo.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :