One Malawi, one nation. President Peter Mutharika burst into the time-honoured catchphrase to calm re-emerging pressure for a federal government or the North to become a standalone country amid feelings that the region is being sidelined in terms of development and public appointments.
Mutharika last evoked the tune in Mzimba on May 13 when former vice-president Khumbo Kachali endorsed him to win the May 20 Elections, but he was at it again following People’s Party (PP) deputy president Harry Mkandawire’s statement in Parliament calling for federalism and accusing the President of sidelining the North and Centre.
Speaking on Saturday, Mutharika waded off calls for equal distribution of development as well as public positions, the reason PP provincial governor Christopher Mzomera Ngwira cites for his calls for the region to secede.
The President told a rally at Mzuzu Upper Stadium that he could only name 18 ministers based on merit to join him in a Cabinet which contains four faces from the North even if the region did not vote him into power in May.
He urged political and religious leaders to give dialogue and reconciliation a chance, instead of dividing the country.
“Let me reiterate my belief in one nation, one Malawi. Some people want to break the country,” said the President.
Mutharika summoned his critics to round-table discussions, saying his door is always open to those with ideas that will help develop the country.
In an interview, Ngwira hit back at the President’s remarks, saying:
“We are not frustrated people fighting the President. We are only worried with the suffering of the North. As a region, we have long been denied our destiny, development and honour. We need a chance to forge our own future.”
At the same rally Mutharika dodged a request by Crown Prince M’mbelwa V to abolish the quota system for selecting students to public universities.
But the President assured speedy construction of Mombera University, saying it should be ready in two or three years’ time.