Delegates to a two-day Public Affairs Committee (PAC) national stakeholders’ forum on inclusivity and federalism have unanimously recommended a review of the Constitution and electoral laws.
The stakeholders, who included representatives from the academia, faith community, political parties, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, Parliament and the Judiciary, agreed this at the end of the forum on Tuesday at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre.
The delegates, who were divided into four groups, were responding to questions that included identifying challenges of inclusivity and proposing solutions to dealing with the challenges as well as describing a desirable road map to be taken for continued engagement on the issue of federalism.
According to the delegates, challenges of inclusion that are the major reason various sectors are calling for federalism in the country include regionalism, tribalism, unequal distribution of resources, lack of separation of power, lack of information, technocrat inefficiencies, unfair political appointments and no sense of sanity in continuing projects left by predecessors in political positions.
The delegates have added support to the 50+1 electoral system by saying with continued failure of the electoral process to produce a national leader with clear mandate from majority votes as the first-past-the-post system does not adequately take care of the wishes of the majority voters.
James Nyondo, president for National Salvation Front (Nasaf), said: “The formation of tribal groupings such as Mulhako wa Alhomwe and Chiwanja cha Ayawo, among others, might also be the reason people are calling on federalism as the others who do not belong to the various prominent tribal groupings are feeling left out.”
In an interview later, PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota said the committee will review the recommendations to make sure there is cohesion on the issue.
Said Chingota: “The main aim of the forum was for people to come up with a road map on how they want the issue of federalism to be taken further and since they have come up with recommendations, the Public Affairs Committee will make a final report.”
On his part, presidential adviser on national unity Symon Vuwa Kaunda said in an interview: “The President took an oath to respect and defend the Constitution and if anything comes out of the federalism debate, he will respect the Constitution.”
Before the recommendations were arrived at, some delegates were overheard calling for the need for PAC to bring to the forum the people who first started the issue of federalism in the country as maybe they could explain to the delegates what model they think is best for Malawi.
Last month, a poll conducted by The Nation on legislators over a two-week period found that if a bill were introduced in the National Assembly on whether or not Malawi should be a federal State as others advocate, 61.5 percent of members of Parliament (MPs) would reject it.
Of the respondents, 75 MPs (61.5 percent) said they would vote against federalism while (30) or 24.5 percent said they would support it and 17 (14 percent) were undecided.