A grouping under the banner of People’s Federal Movement has asked President Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration to ensure that a federal system of government is speedily adopted in Malawi.
At a press briefing in Lilongwe, the group’s national chairperson, Moses Kaphiriwita said they are advocating for the adoption of the system to benefit all Malawians, saying: “This will be achieved by calling for a referendum so that Malawians are given an opportunity to choose what is best for them.”
He thus said the President and his administration should know that the system is not against them, adding that it will actually benefit them the most.
He further said public institutions like National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE), Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Ministry of Information & Digitalization, among others, should be funded to make sure that they educate and make Malawians aware of the ideology.
He added that Parliament should provide a platform where Members of Parliament and their leaders should be schooled on the concept.
On his part, the movement’s national coordinator, Rex Kalolo emphasized that the government should be aware that the federal system of government will be eventually adopted as the push for the system is real.
“Federalism is coming, it cannot be stopped,” he said.
“Change should not be resisted and if someone dares to block it, that person should be ready to face the force that will be brought by change.”
He said Malawi needs federal or devolution of government power so that no tribe should thrive at the expense of another tribe.
“For the past 58 years”, Kalolo said, “Malawi has been singing the same song of change but nothing has changed as expected. Malawi will continue rotating on the same axis till the end of the world if the federal system of government is not adopted.”
The call for the federal system of government is getting stronger by each step as in January, Federalism Institute — in liaison with other federalism stakeholders — wrote a petition to President Chakwera to call for national referendum on its adoption.
The letter — dated January 3, 2023 and copied to the Chief Justice, Speaker of National Assembly, Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson, political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs) — asked the President, as per the law, “to immediately call for the national referendum”.
The Institute maintained that if that was not possible, they would “take a radical approach to ensure that progress is made towards a referendum,” as signed by Lusungu Simba Mwakhwawa (Federalism Institute leader); Moses Mkandawire (States of Malawi chairperson); Dr. Bina Shaba (Federal Movement president); Rabbyce Nkhoma (Federalism Diaspora community leader); Rex Kalolo (religious leader) and political leader, Saunder Bantu Juma.
They quoted Article 12(i) of the Constitution of the Republic, that “provides for the sovereignty of the people of Malawi and states that all legal and political authority of the State derives from its people itself and shall be exercised in accordance with the constitution solely to serve and protect their interests”.
They also quoted Article 12(v) that states that “as all persons have equal status before the law, the only justifiable limitations to lawful rights are those necessary to ensure peaceful human interaction in an open and democratic society”, while also referring to Section 59(i) of the constitution “that gives power to the President to proclaim referenda and plebiscites”.
They stressed that the President is most likely following the “ongoing national debate which has seen millions of Malawians go in favour of system change as a solution to the many challenges Malawi faces”, saying millions are living in abject poverty.
They also cited “ineffective administration” that is rocking the economy and that infrastructure framework “is in a terrible state”; that state organized corruption has captured the nation; followed by “nepotism, tribalism, inequitable distribution of national resources and abuse of state powers, amongst others”.
“This notwithstanding the long exercise of the unitary model of state structure and parliamentary model of ruling, both have proved ineffective. Since we adopted multiparty democracy, we have been moving many steps backward in terms of development which can’t be blamed on people’s failure but system.
“Malawians are honest people, they can’t be blamed to have put wrong people in the driving seat all along as they did with you. Each government that came into power since 1994 has been famous for corruption which led to state capture, including your government.”
The petitioners further said had started “the process of correcting signatures from as many ordinary Malawians, home and abroad, who are demanding a referendum on this issue in line with the provisions cited”.
This, as according to the petitioners, is “to ensure that the people of Malawi do not continue to be betrayed by the few greedy politicians (MPs), who represent their own interest”.
“We shall seek to work with religious leaders, political parties, traditional leaders, civil society organizations, community based organizations, diaspora community and all patriotic citizens, who mean well for Malawi to ensure that the voice of all people is heard loud and clear.
“Through the referendum, the people shall demand system change as the immediate solution from unitary to federal government in order to spur economic growth and stamp out poverty countrywide,” said the January petition.–Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Nyasa Times