There has been politics of ethnicity in Malawi for a very long time. Everyone is aware that there are so many tribes or ethnic groups in Malawi.
As it were, heads of State have been elected from these ethnic groups. However, for the sake of proper running of the country the head of State has to instill unity.
To start with, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda made it a tradition at every meeting to emphasise that all people in the country are Malawians, and not known by their tribes. It sounded monotonous, but this was a very important message for unity in the country. In the same vein, Kamuzu believed in merit so that every Malawian would have a chance to be appointed or selected for a good post in the civil service or parastatal.
What Kamuzu had built in unity in the country had slowly but surely been destroyed by multiparty democracy, when leaders started emphasising on their tribe or region of origin.
Whether by design or not, this was more pronounced by the two governments under the Mutharika brothers [Bingu and Peter]. These two seemed not to care about the unity of Malawians so long they had enough support from their tribe or region. They could talk about unity just as a formality.
Appointment to better positions in the civil service and parastatals seemed not to be on merit but tribal affiliation. One can remember that at some point Bingu publicly said that his priority on the Mardef [Malawi Rural Development Fund] loans were the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youths.
He defended his controversial decision by saying that DPP youths were his own children and “no one can forget his own children”. What he forgot was that by being a head of State, he was a father to all Malawians who were to be treated equally. By segregating, he was promoting disunity.
Meanwhile, in the current government under Chakwera and Tonse Alliance, some seeds of disunity seem to be still sown. When choosing his Cabinet, Chakwera was blamed for choosing many from one side. But the President defended himself that his choice was based on merit. Anyway, people can give him the benefit of the doubt and time will tell.
At the moment, some Malawians are still complaining about the quota system which seems to be still alive and well despite the campaign promise that the President made that quota system will be a thing of the past. It has been noted that some learners have passed very well to even be selected to national schools, but they have been left out just because of the district they come from.
It has been said countless times that it does not make sense to lower the passing mark for learners from districts which have not been performing well because in the end government is simply lowering the standard of education in the country. Any selection to higher education should be on merit. The unreasonable explanation that government wants to give a chance to all districts by using quota system does not hold water, but just creates disunity.
What is stated above cannot create unity. In fact, people waste a lot of time discussing these segregative issues instead of talking about productive issues.
To say the truth, the government should know better that it needs the full participation of every Malawian. But it goes without saying that those who feel segregated in one way or the other might not be willing to participate fully. For the government to instill unity, it should not follow tenets of disunity.