Malawians through the country’s powerful religious grouping, Public Affairs Committee (PAC), have rejected the federal system of government for the time being while urging the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to address discomfort, despair and discontent in people which ignited the movement.
PAC was in national wide consultation soliciting views from the general public of whether the country could adopt a federal system of government which has been mainly advocated by some political leaders from the northern part of Malawi after the 2014 tripartite elections due to unfair distributions of public resources.
Through the dissemination conference on the survey’s findings titled, “Question of Inclusivity and Federation in Malawi”, which PAC organized on Thursday, December 10, in the commercial city of Blantyre, revealed that only five out of the 14 groups and opinions leaders who represented Malawians (34 percent) during the consultation meetings voted for the adaptation of a federal system of government.
However, Malawians who are against adaptation of the system have since called the governing DPP to strengthen the nation’s local government system in a bid to address injustices and inequalities on public resources distribution.
The report has further revealed nine priority concerns which ignited the motive calling for the adaptation of the federal system of government including inadequacies of electoral system, unsatisfactory implementation of the decentralization or devolution programs, significant concentration of executive power in the presidency by the constitution, prevalence of region, ethnic and tribal divisions and latent animosity without an appropriate mechanism for enhancing national unity, continued fusion of political parties in power with government system which party considerations appear to influence access to public resources and development in favour of segments of their supporters while marginalizing opposition parties from playing their rightful role, inequitable distribution of development projects-often in favour of the region where the ruling president comes from, lack of continuity in development policies and programs as each incoming government comes with its own development agenda or strategy, inadequate and weak accountability mechanisms in the period between elections, dominance of nepotism, political party affiliations, tribalism and regionalism in the appointment of public officers at the expense of merit in terms of capacity to deliver in those offices, and marginalization of other organs of state especially Parliament by making the subservient to the Executive.
PAC recognized government efforts on the ongoing public reforms while emphasizing the need to harness and reinvigorate for authorities to effectively respond nine priority concerns which have caused discomfort, discontent and despair among Malawians a recipe for the calling of federation.
Fr. Peter Mulomole, PAC’s Publicity Secretary defended the findings outcome which were done of thorough and inclusive consultations and democratic principles saying views expressed in the report were wishes from all Malawians and the spirit of democracy.
Fr. Mulomole therefore urged the proponents of system to continue with the advocacy and sensitization work to the general public putting in mind that Malawians might change their hearts in future.
“The findings of this report show that Malawians are not ready yet to go for federal system of government. Instead, what they are calling for is strengthening of the unitary system of government we are currently in so that local councils should be empowered enough to facilitate development at local level.
“Unfortunately, Malawians voted for pluralism and majority rule where the majority dictates the minority. But we are not throwing away nor ignoring the aspiration of the minority who wanted Malawi to adapt a federal system of government. All we are saying is we can’t resort to old ways where the minority could just wake up and say we want something without the majority voice”, elaborates Fr. Mulomole.
Public Affairs Committee is one of the powerful religious group whose influence on Malawi’s political scene is undisputable comprise of Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Malawi Councils of Churches (MCC), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Quadria Association of Malawi (QAM) and Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM).
Apart from fighting for democracy during 1994 elections, PAC was also instrumental in thwarting former president Bakili Muluzi’s infamous third term and open term bids.