The debate, so it seems, has begun on the question of secession of the North or Malawi embracing a federal system of government.
But as of now, we seem to be confused of what direction the debate should take and what happens after the debate is concluded. Will a referendum follow?
It looks, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) will give Malawi the direction once their mandate to run the debate has been formalised.
But for now, let us get one thing clear: What is it that the proponents want? A debate on secession or federalism.
Let us not mix these two key questions. Let us get one thing. For sure, I thought the debate should be on federalism. Forget secession.
And the debate on federalism will not be only for northerners. It will involve all Malawians, because if Malawians would want a federal system of government, it means deciding how many regions will be federated.
We already have four political regions—south, eastern region, central and north. But in the north, other political parties add the Viphya region. The lower shire might want to be a region on its own. Likoma and Chizumulu islands might want to be considered as a region on their own.
In the end, we might discover everyone wants a piece of the federal cake. Why do I don’t want the secession debate to continue?
I think the Nation on Sunday editorial of September 28 aptly summed up the case when it wrote that No to secession, adding that while they would let Malawians speak their minds on how the wish their country to be governed, but “what we do not agree with, however, is the idea of accommodating secession calls.
“In as much as we believe that deliberations are essential, it seems baffling that anyone should consider breaking up a country due to concerns or challenges that a roundtable discussion can easily resolve.
“Whatever grievances some quarters of society have and no matter how legitimate the concerns may be, the solution cannot be to dismantle this country into pieces.
“We are not disputing the fact that there are genuine concerns calling for immediate attention and action, but secession is certainly not the right way to address such issues.
“It would be unwise for a small country such as Malawi to plant seeds of discord among its people just because some overzealous individuals cannot think of better and unifying ways of solving some challenges facing the country.”
“Even in the face of nepotism, lack of development or the quota system of selecting students into the University of Malawi (Unima) and many other issues that are being cited by proponents of secession, there is no justification whatsoever for the country to take this regrettable path.
“Secession will mean dividing this nation and scattering the 14 million citizens who would be forced to make a choice on which country to belong to.
“Over the past decades, we have been one Malawi; the warm Heart of Africa. We have together fought colonialism, dictatorship and ushered this beautiful country into democracy.
“In this long walk, we have stood together as one Malawi; our patriots have shed blood for Malawi as one country.
“Where did things go wrong that the word secession should be heard in our minds? The editorial concluded: “Let us not rip this country apart.”
So, in the views of Achikulire, let us not allow shallow-minded politicians and individuals take advantage of the situation and start demanding secession which has international implications as well.
For federalism, yes, let the debate begin with a credible and an unbiased question, with a probable question: Should Malawi adopt a federal system of government? Or in Chichewa: Kodi Malawi lisinthe ulamuliro wake kuti ukhale wa chitanganya?