New political vocabulary amongst Malawians has emerged and that is a proposal to have the presidency rotated across all the regions of the North, South and Centre to ensure equitable distribution of power.
One of the proponents of the rotational presidency, Mzimba-based Ngoni Chief Inkosi ya Makhosi M’belwa has argued that the system will ensure equity as every region will produce someone to lead the country as opposed to only the dominant tribes having their way.
M’mbelwa also said the rotational presidency will end concerns of nepotism and that “even the distribution of lings like development will even be fair”.
In quotes reported by the local press, M’mbelwa cited Nigeria which adopted rotational presidency system, saying “people there stopped fighting.”
M’mbelwa said people of the North Malawi feel marginalised and hence there has been an appetite for a federal system of government.
“If you look at Malawi’s political history, Kamuzu [Banda] was from Central Region and he was in power for 31 years.
“Then came Bakili Muluzi in 1994 who has been succeeded by people from the South. By 2024, this country will have been ruled by colleagues in the Southern Region for 30 years; hence, the feeling of marginalisation by Northerners. Everybody needs to feel as a part of this country.”
But University of Malawi political scientist Ernest Thindwa told The Nation daily newspaper on Monday that Malawi needs to put in place electoral laws that ensure that for one to win, they need to have “popular mandate across regions.”
He said: “At the moment, to go by the voting patterns, the South and Centre would rather maintain the status quo because they have a high chance if winning, which is not appropriate.”
Thindwa said the “starting point” should be adoption and implementation of 50-plus-one electoral system.
Malawi uses the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) or winner-takes-all system to elect presidents, members of Parliament (MPs) and ward councillors.
Under the 50+1 electoral system, the triumphant contender is decided on the basis of getting a majority 50 percent plus one of the votes to win.
In Malawi, a simple majority is currently required for one to win the presidency without provision for a runoff election; a development Thindwa argued has tended to put leaders with no national mandate in office.
The Chancellor College- based political lecturer says the 50+1 electoral system will “compel presidential candidates and incumbents to ensure they react out to all corners of the country and essentially that would deal with politics of regionalism and discrimination.”
Out of the six general elections since the transition to multiparty democracy in 1993, three candidates have made it to State House with less than 50 percent of the popular vote.
In the first post-independence multiparty elections in 1994, Bakili Muluzi won the presidency with 47 percent although later, in his second term, won with 52 percent in 1999.
In 2004, the late Bingu wa Mutharika made it with 36 percent, but his approval rating surged to 66 percent five years later in 2009. His younger brother, Peter, in 2014 secured the presidency with about 36 percent of the votes cast.
In May 2019 Peter Mutharika secured re-election with 38 percent of the votes casts but his victory is being challenged in the Constitutional Court.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :