Despite public pronouncements dismissing calls for federalism or secession of the Northern Region, President Peter Mutharika is ready to meet Public Affairs Committee (PAC) over the issues.
State House press secretary Frederick Ndala confirmed on Wednesday that Mutharika will grant PAC an audience after the religious body requested for an appointment.
“Of course, PAC was not specific on issues to be discussed, but the President is ready to meet them. It is a matter of allocating time,” said Ndala.
PAC, which has volunteered to facilitate debate on federalism or secession of the Northern Region, told Nation on Sunday last week that it booked an appointment with the President to discuss the two issues.
On Thursday, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said they were eagerly waiting for communication from State House on the audience.
“It is a welcome development. Listening to public observations is critical at this stage. As regards the agenda, I cannot rule out issues of federalism and secession. I can’t imagine a meeting without examining such topical issues.
“These issues are in the public domain. It is through public dialogue and debate that such issues would be appreciated. Let us embrace the debate since it is what democracy demands.”
He appealed to the public for calm, praying that an audience with the President would help PAC share the observations with the leadership.
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), led by its president Dr Lazarus Chakwera, is among groups that engaged the committee and asked for its facilitation.
MCP spokesperson Dr Jessie Kabwila said earlier that the federal government calls were as a result of nepotistic tendencies by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
Associate professor of law at Chancellor College (Chanco) Edge Kanyongolo said the debate was too crowded and he did not want to comment whether those calling for secession had justifiable grounds.
He nevertheless said secession would mean the creation of a new State within Malawi by way of dividing the country.
Kanyongolo further said Malawi would require recognition by other countries as an independent State.
“You cannot operate without that recognition by other countries because it is a matter of international law,” he said.
According to Kanyongolo, the international law entails Malawians making a choice where they want to belong if secession was done.
The term federalism is also used to describe a system of government in which the sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as States or provinces).
In Africa, federalism system of government is practised in countries such as South Africa and Nigeria. n