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North marches for federal system of govt

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Scores of proponents of federal system of government took to the streets yesterday in Mzuzu City asking President Peter Mutharika to respond to the petition sent to him on January 7, 2015 which demanded a change of unitary system to federal system of government.

The organisers of the protests, Forum for the Advancement of Federal System and Rural Development in Malawi, have since given Mutharika 40 days to address 15 issues highlighted in their petition or face vigil in all government offices in Mzuzu and eventually Capital Hill in Lilongwe.

The march, which started from Mzuzu Stadium to Mzuzu City Council offices, attracted heavy police presence. The organisers presented their petition to Mzuzu City acting Chief Executive Officer, Victor Masina, who is expected to forward it to the Office of the President and Cabinet.

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Masina said he would present the petition to relevant authorities and thanked them for the peaceful demonstrations.

According to the petition, the protesters said Mutharika’s continued silence on their petition prompted them to march.

“We want to tell you Mr. President that we are marching because we are tired of waiting for a response from you. We are also tired of a system of governance that has been slow to deliver for the past 51 years,” reads the petition signed by Bina Shaba, Harris Kanyeremuka and Vailet Nyirenda, chairperson, secretary general and treasurer general for the forum respectively.

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The protesters also asked for a referendum on the issue after citizens have been sensitised.

They also demanded a clear government position on the issue of federal system of government arguing that Mutharika favoured it when he was consultant to the Special Constitutional Review Conference where he presented a paper.

The forum also wanted to know why National Initiative for Civic Education is not educating Malawians about federal system of government.

The forum warns government not to trivialise the calls for federal system arguing it required serious, practical and pragmatic solution.

The forum further demands that government should declare all traditional authority areas and local councils as local governments and change laws to reflect the new status.

The forum further warns government to stop corrupting chiefs to stifle debate on the issues. It further urges government to involve communities when drafting mining contracts with investors.

The forum raised issues surrounding segregation and discrimination, road infrastructure in the North, status of Mzuzu City, education, and appointments in government and recognition of heroes from the North.

The forum complained about the quota of system selecting students to public universities saying it marginalised those from the North.

They also complained about poor road network in the region saying despite campaign promises to upgrade some of them like the Edingeni-Euthini-Mpherembe- Nyika-Nthalire-Chitipa road, nothing has been done.

They also queried why Mzuzu City gets a little budget of around K1 billion when other cities get as high as K2.2 billion as is the case in the 2015/2015 national budget.

Kanyeremuka said in an interview they were happy that they demonstrated and that they were expecting an answer from Mutharika within 40 days. He said if Mutharika continues to ignore them, they will mobilise people to hold vigil at government offices.

Minister of Information, Tourism, Civic Education and Culture, Kondwani Nankhumwa, was not available for comment.

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