As a fervent user and believer of freedom of expression as enshrined in our Constitution, I have no qualms with characters such as Christopher Mzomera Ngwira exercising this by calling for the secession of the North or indeed the federal system of government.
But I will have serious problems if the reasons the characters are citing for doing so are based on malice and half truths and are motivated more by selfish intentions and hunger for power than a real desire to wish the people of the North well.
The thrust of argument for these proponents of secession or federalism for the North is that the region is not getting a fair deal from the national cake in terms of development. They say, rather emotionally, that the North is the least developed among the three regions.
With a view to buttress their argument, I would have been happier if these people had told the nation what parameters of development they are using to come with this position. Is it buildings and other infrastructure that they are using or just general levels of poverty?
To me real development lies in the improvement of the general living standards of people especially in the rural areas and on this basis, tell me which region among three is developed?
In fact, according to the poverty analysis in the Integrated Household Survey report, the Northern Region is the least poor among the three regions.
Here is what the analysis says: “Although regional comparisons are difficult to understand given the confounding effect of the presence of both rural and urban households within the regions, among the three administrative regions of Malawi the incidence of poverty is highest in the Southern Region, followed by the Central and Northern regions. However, these differences in poverty headcounts across regions are not statistically significant.” (P11, paragraph 2)
In terms of districts, the poorest one is not one of the six in the North. On the contrary, it is Nsanje in the South which basically lives off the hand of government and an army of NGOs that have made the district their own bastion for obvious reasons and guided by statistics.
As regards distribution of resources from initiatives such as Local Development Fund, government uses an objective formula that takes into account the district’s population before fiscal transfers are made thereby ruling out any hint of unfair distribution and discrimination on regional basis as shamefully claimed by this group.
On this basis, I should think big districts like Mzimba in the North understandably get a lion’s share.
But Malawians know the real reason why Mzomera Ngwira and his ilk are clamouring for secession or federalism: Frustration and hunger for power.
Mzomera Ngwira, for example, never mentioned secession when his PP was at the apex of power for two years. These calls are coming only after May 20 and we all know what happened on that day.
To me the only credible issue that this nation must rally behind is to change the first-past-the post system of electing our presidents to 50+ so that our man or woman at the State House has an unquestionable mandate and total legitimacy in all our eyes.
Calling for regional secession based on uninformed or selfish intentions will get this country or the region in question nowhere.
It is obvious that even after 50 years of self-rule from the British, this country still remains one of the poorest in the world.
Many Malawians cannot afford basic necessities such as food, soap, salt and decent accommodation. Many have no access to decent medical facilities and clean water. The list is long and it cuts across all regions.
So, tell me, Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, which region is developed to incur your wrath and envy?