People who advocate splitting Mzimba into tuchoko-tuchoko (tiny) districts argue that because of its large size Mzimba has lagged behind in development. When we analyse development in its components we realise that these people are making misleading allegations. Development is realised through education, health, industry, physical infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Educationally, Mzimba has always been in the forefront. Education was introduced there by Scottish missionaries in the 1880s. By the beginning of the 20th Century, schools had covered the whole of Ngoniland. In 1988, the Ministry of Education took a census of primary schools in Malawi and issued a report that showed Mzimba had more primary schools than any other district.
What is the current educational situation in Mzimba? The government is building a higher education institution there called Mombera University. It is constructing a road from Jenda to Edingeni, Jenda is fast emerging as a rural growth centre. It has been announced that the government is to build an aerodrome near Ekwendeni to serve passengers to Mzuzu. If all this is not development, then what is?
What about industries? Viphya Plantation, widely known as Chikangawa Forest, has existed since the end of the 1940’S. We learn that a mining company is about to start operations at Kanyika in southern Mzimba. You will see from this that all parts of the district are being developed.
If the bigger a country get the less developed it will be, why is Zambia more developed than Malawi? Can they produce evidence that in Malawi all the smaller districts are better developed than the bigger districts of Kasungu, Lilongwe, Mzimba and Mangochi?
In all countries in the world, some districts are bigger than others. Why not in Malawi? I appeal to my fellow Mzongendaba not to listen to these people. What perhaps Mzimba deserves is decentralization but not fragmentation. We survived in the past because we were united. We shall be destroyed in the future is we start quarrelling among ourselves.
The people of Britain will decide by a referendum whether Britain should exit from the European Union. On an issue like this, they felt that parliamentary majority was not enough. It has to be the majority of the population.
Similarly, the fragmentation of Mzimba cannot be a matter of councilors alone to decide. The matter should either be dropped or put to a referendum. Let the one million people of Mzimba decide whether they are now tired of their unity made possible by the existence of paramount chiefs.
The people of Mzimba as a whole must decide whether they believe in sharing wealth or in selfishness. As things are at present, if the councilors negotiate with the government that a portion of taxes on Chikangawa Forest should be directly handed to the M’mbelwa District Council, the fund will be available for use in any part of Mzimba. If the district is partitioned then Chikangawa revenue will be claimed exclusively by the district in which it will be. The same will be the case with the Kanyika Mine and Mombera University; they will be selfishly arrogated by the districts in which they will happen to be.
The history of partitioning in Blantyre District should give further warning. The district called Mwanza was part of Blantyre. Later, the people of Mwanza split further into Mwanza and Neno districts.
Once you break Mzimba into three districts, some people will demand further splitting. All the chiefs in Mzimba happily acknowledge the traditional leadership on M’mbelwa. In the new districts, they will start bickering as to who is the new Inkosi wa Makhosi until each chiefdom will demand a district of its own, saying ‘if Likoma can be a district, why not my chiefdom?’ Let us pay homage to M’mbelwa I and his prime minister Ng’onomo for bequeathing to us the previous gift of a district almost as big as Swaziland. n