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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quota systems and resignation of Northern MP's and Ministers

President Bingu wa Mutharika's support of the quota system was a political mistake. As a head of State he cannot openly voice support of any negative or positive discrimination in public. His support could have been done silently and remain politically right.
He labels himself as unpredictable, but this is a political blunder that might end up haunting him for his entire political life. The issues of John Tembo and Northern Region are not necessary based on MCP torture or killings, they are based on two issues. Expulsion of teachers to their respective homes in 1997 which targeted the Northerners and the quota system.
Unfortunately quota system affects people at household level. If my brother after working hard, using candles and match sticks to read scores 10 points but unfortunately all places for Rumphi are filled up, I feel bitter for him having been left out.
Bitterness breeds anger and anger hatred. You would not wish to plant that in the young generation which has made strides to identify itself as being Malawian. Constitution bars any form of discrimination. The President said it was to balance up North region dominance.
Should hard working Northern region students be punished because most of their forefathers worked hard in school while other tribes were trekking to South Africa or indulging in earlky marraiges? That is a very dangerous precedence. That is why the courts in early 1992 barred such a system.
The solution lies in creating more places at the University level. Let Unima open up distance learning for both Mzuzu University and University of Malawi. Let us have weekend and evening classes intake which can double our University intake.
Instisting on quota system is discriminating against a particular region.
Now the aftermath, should people from the North in Government resign after the President's position. I know as someone from the region that there is a full campaign to pressure parliamentarians or Ministers to quit their positions in protest against the quota system.
But having seen the political landscape for years, I have also heard of many agruments which the future generations might want to seriously ponder. I have heard of proportional system of parliamentary representation, others want federation other radicals will talk of breaking the country.
I choose to differ. Malawi is Malawi and Malawi is one. I cannot subscribe to any idea of creating conflict.
The greatest lesson the late Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda left on some of us is that contact and dialogue works and that should be the direction. Let the Ministers and MP's from DPP raise the issue of quota system within the DPP.
They are part of DPP and Government and they have a right to be in those settings, they cannot resign and protest against their own system, but they can work and reason with others within the system.
Asking Goodall, Khumbo Kachalio, Billy Kaunda, Professor Chirambo, Catherine Gotani Hara, Ephraim Chiume, Etta Banda and others to resign is very short sightdness and would not take the region anywhere.
The late Chakufwa Chihana might had seemed mad, but the only times tangible development projects came to the region like the Auction Floors, Mzuzu University, High Court and Mzuzu Hospital it was when he joined UDF administration and bargained.
Today I implore all Northerners to learn from Chihana and talk to Bingu and others with similar minds and find a solution which is to increase university places. If Government can support University of Livingstonia, Adventist University, Catholic University and others we can double intake and stop all the talk of University places!!!

2 comments:

Acacia said...

insightful. voice of reason.

Fally Sombo Nkhwazi said...

Kondwani, I like your thoughtful post. I would like to add a few thoughts of my own to that. The perceived academic and economic dominance of Northerners was born of historical adversity. When the British imposed hut taxes in Malawi in the early 19th century, this had a stronger impact on notherners than the rest of the country because northerners were far from the seat of government in the south where jobs were available. The only option for northerners was to emmigrate and send money back home to mostly women relatives. A lot of Northern men went outside Malawi so much so that by the 1940s more than 30% of the male northern population was outside the country. This migration introduced Northerners to the value of education. They did not only acquire education, they also helped their relatives attend school inside and outside of Malawi. Like most Africans, the educated Malawians returned home to settle and the developing Malawi was eager to enlist their help by offering them jobs that required high education. The fact that the North did not have a strong religious attachement that the south had with Islam, also provided a fertile ground for missionaries to establish schools such as the Livingstonia Synod that further strengthened the North's access to education. Kamuzu failed to address the imbalance with the quota system and by confining northern teachers to the North because he did not address the underlying issue. If anything, his action forced Northerners to look for alternative places to prosper. As we all comtemplate a move forward, lets have this in mind.