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Federalism motion stirs debate in parliament

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CHIHANA—Malawi has now matured to change the system of government

There was heated debate in Parliament Thursday morning when Mzimba North Member of Parliament, Yeremia Chihana, tabled the highly contentious motion for Malawi to adopt a federal system of government.

A federal system of government is a political entity characterised by a union of partially self-governing states or regions under a central government.

Chihana argued that the federal system of government would help promote equitable distribution of resources and developments and eliminate regionalism, nepotism and corruption in the country.

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Chihana proposed “that in the interest of equitable distribution of resources and developments in Malawi and as a solution to the challenges brought about by the quota system in the education sector, coupled with the elasticity of Malawi politics and in order to ensure equal participation in political decisions which affect all regions of Malawi, this House is satisfied that Malawi has now matured to change the system of government.

“ And to that end, this House resolves that all efforts and legal framework should be put in place towards adoption of a federal system of government within a specified time period and in any case before the next scheduled elections in 2024”.

Chihana argued that President Peter Mutharika has, on several occasions, spoken on the importance of adopting a federal government.

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“If Mutharika is to fail, it would be because of the people in this House and around him. Otherwise, he knows well that federal government is good for Malawi,” Chihana said.

Commenting on the matter, Mulanje Bale MP, Victor Musowa, argued that in 2014, a similar proposal came to the House after what he described as another election defeat.

He argued that even if Malawi were to adopt a federal system of government, the Northern Region would still find it hard to identify a leader, claiming that in recent years, two sons of a political party leader fought for the presidency of a party.

But the statement did not go down well with Chitipa East MP, Kezzie Msukwa, who argued that Musowa insinuated that the region has a shortage of leaders.

The Government Chief Whip, Simon Vuwa Kaunda, spoke agaist a federal system of government, arguing that even Paramount Chief Kyungu, has in the recent past indicated that the proposers of federalism should exclude Karonga and Chitipa districts.

However, MPs from the region rose on a point of order, saying Kaunda was lying by claiming that Kyungu was against federalism.

Lilongwe Mpenu MP, Eisenhower Mkaka, said nepotism, tribalism, favourism and cronyism have reached alarming levels in the current regime, saying federalism could provide solutions to some of the challenges.

The matter has since been referred to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament for further scrutiny.

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