It may not be pleasing to some people who believe that anyone who suggests anything politically innovative such as secession and federalism or anything politically backward such as feudalism or Unitarianism is against the duly elected minority government and presidency of Peter Arthur or Arthur Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
It may not be pleasing to those who think that anyone who does not agree with the way the government runs national affairs is a frustrated enemy of Arthur Peter or Peter Arthur Mutharika and the DPP. It may not be pleasing to those who believe that northerners are troublemakers because their Cashgate party miserably lost the controversial and shambolic May 20 2014 elections.
It may not be pleasing to those who don’t see how unfair it is to mine all the coal from Mchenga and Kaziwiziwi in Rumphi but leave Rumphi as poor as it was before the first Gonapamuhanya came to Bolero, Rumphi. It may not be pleasing to those who don’t see how unfair it is for uranium to be mined out of Kayekera in Karonga and leave Karonga and the Karongians as poor as they were before Mlozi started trading in slaves there. It may not be pleasing to those who are so blind as not to see how unfair it is for nearly all the primeland of the Lower Shire Valley taken away and dedicated to sugar plantations and wildlife parks and leave the Lower Shire Valleans poorer than when David Livingstone first sighted elephants in the now famous Elephant Marsh. It may not be pleasing for someone who refuses to recognise how unfair it is for Malawi’s cream Mulanje Cedar to be exported all over the world while the Mulanjeans are killed or blocked from accessing fuel wood from their own forest.
However, it is pleasing to us, senior staff of the Interfaith International Prayerhouse, that at least the Malawi Government has now started seeing sense in the need for Malawians to freely, fully, and robustly debate the merits and demerits of unitarianism, secessionism and federalism. It is our considered conviction that the government should not be afraid of calling for a referendum. If Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda had not hearkened to the Reverend Aaron Longwe and the Synod of Livingstonia’s St Andrews Church’s call for a referendum on multipartyism, Malawi would not have been multiparty state today.
So, the President and his government should not fear its own people. If people decide to adopt a federal system of government, Parliament will debate the issue and amend the laws accordingly. If people choose secession, then new countries will be born out of Malawi. It is not wise to force people to live together if they don’t want to. Divided they stand, united they fall.
Referenda are the best and most convincing means of getting a national consensus on a potentially divisive proposal as the call for secession. We are squarely convinced that the politicians who started the talk should now step out and let other less polarised institutions manage the national debate. We are pleased that the government has endorsed the Public Affairs Committee and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.
Pleased as we are about this, we are surprised at the choice. We reasonably feel all organisations, individuals and political parties should be involved in this secession and federalism awareness campaign because different organisations and individuals have different target audiences. Choosing just two organisations without explaining how and why those were chosen is tantamount to stifling debate and giving Malawians a despicably and extremely unacceptable raw deal
We will not support the exclusion of any organisations and individuals in this debate. That’s why we urge government to enlist the services of president Emeritus Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi already ably handled a similar situation almost twenty years ago. He realized that all the calls, then, for federalism and secession were about social inclusion, fair distribution of national wealth, jobs and assets, a stop to the wanton exploitation of some areas to develop other areas and the diversion of funds meant for the development of, say Mchinji to other areas, which coincidentally and ‘criminally’, are home states of a sitting President.
Chief Apostle Prof. Dr Joyce Befu, MG 66
Leader of Delegation & Expedition.