Members of Parliament (MPs) in the august house on Thursday gave opposing views on calls for the country to have a federal system of government.
While all those who spoke on the motion from the government side opposed it, those from the opposition side supported it.
Those opposing the motion said this is not the right time to bring such an issue as there is development in all areas across the country and such a move is only meant to discredit the current regime while those supporting it said it would go towards rooting out discrimination in distribution of resources.
Rumphi East MP, Kamlepo Kalua moved a motion on the Matter of Urgent Public Importance under Standing Order 14 for the house to discuss a matter of federal system of government. In the motion, Kalua advocated for a federal system to ensure equity in all areas across the country.
“In a federal system resources can be channeled in a proper way and can benefit all the people regardless of their tribe or region. For example, if there is a federal system in place, resources in the national budget will be shared equally and Malawi will develop,” he said.
He said the house needed to discuss the motion for the sake of the future generation. He observed that the current system leaves some discriminated because they belong to a certain tribe saying there is too much nepotism and regionalism which leaves certain areas underdeveloped or not developed at all.
He, however, did not mention the tribes which are being discriminated against.
Dowa East MP, Richard Chimwendo supported the motion saying the call for a federal system of government comes because of discrimination that is there in distribution of resources.
“Malawi should have the spirit of equal distribution of resources. If there was that equity there wouldn’t be call for federation,” he observed.
He said most constituencies have something to point at because of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Chimwendo said communities cry for basic things like potable water because they do not have access to the same while others have three boreholes in a single village which would be avoided in a federal system.
Mzimba North MP, Agnes Lonje observed that regionalism, nepotism and tribalism are common in many countries and these have led to wars in such countries.
“The absence of war in Malawi doesn’t mean we are at peace, no, we aren’t. As such federal system has more potential to unite us as Malawians,” she said.
Nyalonje said Malawi has, through decentralization, already adopted a system closer to federalism hence the need to make the system formal.
But Zomba Chisi parliamentarian, Mark Botomani had different views saying it is unfair to say that there is inequality in the distribution of resources as MPs are part of that distribution process.
He said those advocating for the motion have taken Malawi nowhere and are only doing so to score political mileage.
Former Malawi Vice President, Khumbo Kachali spoke in favor of the motion saying there is need to understand what federal system of government is in order to make an informed decision.
“Somewhere we are missing the point. Those proposing federal system of government aren’t fighting the current regime. As such we need to look at the merits and demerits of the system,” he said.
Kachali called for a study that would determine what type of federal system would best suit Malawi.
Machinga North East MP who is also Minister of Health, Atupele Muluzi said government is ensuring that Malawians across the country are offered the necessary and required resources.
He said there is a shift in decision making from central government to the local councils citing the issue of district hospitals which are at the moment being managed by district councils.
However, he said the challenge is on accountability of the councils.
“We are moving towards having resources fully decentralized. It is for this reason that we demand accountability of the local councils in the management of the resources,” he said.
In his winding up statement to the debate on the motion, Kalua said by moving the motion he did not mean to accuse a certain tribe let alone bring confusion in the house but for members to debate and come up with a voice.
He noted that most members have not understood the motion.
Other Mps who supported the motion are Dedza East MP Juliana Lunguzi, Karonga Central MP Frank Mwenefumbo while those among the opposers were Zomba Chisi MP, Thyolo Thava MP and Mulanje Bale MP.