The CCAP Synod of Livingstonia has said it will release a concept paper, demanding that Malawi adopts a rotational presidency system to ensure equitable distribution of political powers across the three regions.
Synod general secretary Reverend Levi Nyondo said, in an interview yesterday, that the church discussed the matter at Loudon Mission in Mzimba last year, and is supporting it.
The church has joined other proponents such as Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa V, and veteran politician Goodall Gondwe, who believe the system would ensure geo-political balance and end allegations of nepotism.
In fact, during a Constitution Review Conference from March 28-31 2006 in Lilongwe, incumbent President Peter Mutharika weighed in on the proposal, and said it was doable.
“We discussed this during the Loudon meeting and agreed as a synod to champion this system. We will soon be issuing a document on this position demanding that we adopt the rotational system,” said Nyondo.
He added: “You see, everyone in the country must have an opportunity to rule, but since 1994, it has been people from just one region. Does that mean other regions don’t have capable people who can rule? So, we are saying, we need equal sharing of power, and rotational [presidency] is the only way to go.”
In his paper presentation titled ‘Towards a More Manageable Constitution’, Mutharika said the idea is not necessarily outlandish, but also wondered whether the system would exacerbate regionalism .
He said: “Both Switzerland and Malaysia have rotating presidencies. In the case of Malaysia, though, the presidency is a ceremonial position. A constitutional formula could be found under which an executive presidency would rotate.
“Our three regions are certainly not a geographical imperative. They were drawn for the convenience of the colonial administrators and to some extent the missionaries.”
Assuming the idea of a rotational presidency does not garner sufficient support, Mutharika suggested proportional representation and abolition of regions as ways of addressing concerns about regional marginalisation.
He explained: “Another, and perhaps, more radical response is to simply abolish the three regions and create the district as the basic administrative unit. Nigeria successfully resolved the problems that were created by the existence of the three regions at the time of independence in 1960 into what are now 36 states and one federal territory.
“While the initial decision to abolish the regions led to war, Nigeria is now a much more unified and stable country. Similarly, South Africa’s decision to break the original four provinces into nine has created a very stable political environment.”
Mutharika’s spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani yesterday said he would not comment on whether the President still maintains that view,
“You can just quote the position paper which the President made,” he said.
M’mbelwa, in an earlier interview, said rotational presidency can promote peace and stability while harmonising the political divide.
He said: “When you look at Nigeria, people there stopped fighting after adopting the when you look at the population of the North and Centre, you will find that it is small, and so you find that a northerner or someone from the Central Region cannot be President.”rotational system. In Malawi,
The Ngoni king thinks people in the North feel marginalised, saying: “If you look at Malawi’s political history, Kamuzu [Banda] was from the Central Region and he was in power for 31 years.
“Then came Bakili Muluzi, in 1994, who has been succeeded by people from the South. By 2024, this country will have been ruled by colleagues in the Southern Region for 30 years; hence, the feeling of marginalisation by northerners. Everybody needs to feel as a part of this country.”
Gondwe, who is governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (North) and President Peter Mutharika’s adviser on economic issues, said the matter warrants a discussion having been at the centre of discussion in the early 1990s, during a Constitutional Review.
However, critics such as Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu, feel a regional power rotation would simply be a continuous struggle by political gurus to achieve political ambitions.
He said Malawi just lacks clear policies and implementation mechanisms that can lift the poverty lid not; hence, rotational presidency is no solution.
Said Lukwa: “Rotational presidency is not the solution to Malawi’s development. What we need are good policies, we are seriously lacking them right now.”
Senior Chief Makwangwala of Ntcheu also said rotational presidency will only deepen divisions, suggesting that the 50+1 system of electing the President remains the best solution for Malawi’s political challenges.
Senior Chief Tengani of Nsanje also said the country’s challenges are not a result of the current system of electing presidents.
On his part, Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the solution to deal with politics of discrimination, regionalism or favouritism is not rotational presidency.
“We need to put in place electoral laws that ensure that for one to win, they need to have popular mandate across regions. At the moment, to go by the voting patterns, the South and Centre would rather maintain the status quo because they have a high chance of winning, which is not appropriate,” said Thindwa.
He added that he would have preferred the country shifted from the First-Past-the-Post to parliamentary system, “but that would be difficult”.
“Therefore, the starting point should be the 50+1[system], because it will compel presidential candidates and incumbents to ensure they reach out to all corners of the country, and essentially that woulda deal with politics of regionalism and discrimination,” he added.
Malawi’s founding leader Hastings Kamuzu Banda, from the Central Region, governed the country for 31 years under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
Since the adoption of democracy in 1994, the country has been governed by Bakili Muluzi of United Democratic Front, Bingu wa Mutharika of DPP, Joyce Banda of People’s Party, and, the incumbent Peter Mutharika—all from the Southern Region.