Five or six Questions for federalists and secessionists

It is over 13 months since
Malawi wake up to a story
of a near fatal shooting of
the then Budget Director in
the Ministry of Finance, Paul
Mphwiyo. It is this story
that sparked revelations of
systematic looting of
government resources
(cashgate). So far, there
have been two convictions
and over 70 arrests in
connection with cashgate.
Anti Corruption Bureau, the
graft busting body has
publicly confirmed that
there are more arrests to
be made in the coming
Mphwiyo, a supposed
government corruption
buster, according to then
State President, Joyce
Banda, has also been
arrested, suspected for the
very same crimes he was
supposedly fighting
against. When it gets to this
point you realise that the
whole system is rotten. Will
Joyce Banda appear in
court to defend her claims
that Mr Mphwiyo nearly lost
his life fighting against
corruption within the
Malawi government?
From Bakili Muluzi to Peter
Mutharika, Malawi
presidents have always
talked tough against
corruption but in reality
corruption appear to have
flourished at all levels of the
state. Donors who fund up
to 40% of the national
budget are withholding
their support demanding
that Malawi government
sort out its financial
systems and deal with
culprits of cashgate
Public mood suggests that
Malawians have moved on
and the country is back to
what it does best:
politicking. After all, to most
Malawians cashgate is just
another case in which
those in power help
themselves from the public
purse anyway. Ask ordinary
folks on the streets and you
will get this perception.
This is why politicians and
civil servants steal with
impunity. Ever wondered
why donors are more livid
about cashgate than
There are a lot of
disaffected Malawians that
have resigned to the fact
their government will never
do anything for them. I am
aware of a seemingly
patriotic talk that
Malawians cannot always
wait for their government
to provide for them. The
truth is that there is a
limitation to what ordinary
citizens can do without
state intervention. Beside,
the government has a
mandate to provide for its
people and, likewise,
Malawians have the right to
demand efficient service
delivery from their
government. It is on this
principle that citizens pay
tax. Never underplay this
Paul Mason, a British
economics journalist
recently wrote in The
Guardian that persistent
economic problems make
people fatalistic. “[An]
average person learns the
true meaning of
“inshallah”; the Arabic
phrase denoting
resignation to the will of
God,” he observed. Adding
that people “become
resigned to the economy
screwed, resigned to the
rich getting richer …
resigned to the possibility
that all political heroes
however noble – will betray
After cashgate, how many
Malawians still have trust in
politicians? What have
politicians, in power or
otherwise done on
cashgate that Malawians
can be proud of? I wrote
on this page three weeks
ago that to demand
recognition is merely
human, a condition
identified by Plato, the
Greek philosopher, as
thymos. It is this condition
that drive history, to a large
extent. Dictatorships fall;
economies and political
systems change when
people demand equality
and justice.
Meanwhile, cashgate has
shown that the political
elite and their associates
share among themselves
the bounties of this land.
Cashgate has confirmed
what most Malawians
already suspected. It
appears that Malawians
have become accustomed
to political corruption that
they see it as normal. The
governance and political
system is a charade as it is.
Instead of challenging and
work to change the status
quo as it were, opposition
politicians have opted to
call for federalism, others in
the north have suggested
an outright secession.
The federalism debate has
since taken hold. I have
utmost respect for those
who fight for justice where
it is denied and I believe
social, economic and
political injustices are
among key issues
hindering social and
economic development in
Malawi. The federalists and
secessionist have genuine
frustrations and they must
be heard. The only curious
thing is that these demands
are top-down. This makes
the demands cynical, for
cynics like myself, at least.
Social, political and
economic inequalities are a
catalyst for disharmony and
calls for federalism and
succession are
understandable but this
begs a question, if
politicians can manage to
successfully start a debate
on this pertinent issue why
have they failed to do the
same on equally important
issues that are driving
social, economic and
political inequalities?
It is not a secret that the
State President has too
much powers in this
country, we know that
President Peter Mutharika is
aware of this because his
party promised to reduce
presidential powers should
they win. Those fronting
the federalism debate are
in parliament; why not
push for reduction of
presidential powers?
Why not push for
enactment of transparency
and accountability laws
such as access to
information and
declaration of asserts? And
not only for individuals but
also political parties, should
Malawians still not know
where political parties get
their funding from? Is
federalism/ succession the
best solution to these
perennial problems?


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