Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has said the Bill on the electoral reforms would “most likely” be tabled in Parliament during the sitting in November this year, shrugging off pressure from opposition to urgently deliberate the legislation.
Tembenu said there are about six Bill for electoral reforms to be brought to parliament after work of the Malawi Law Commission (MLC) was completed in March this year.
“The House should expect the Bills, six of them un total, most likely in November,” Tembenu said.
But opposition demanded the electoral reforms Bills be tabled as a matter of urgency, fearing if tabled in November, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) would not be given ample time to prepare itself administratively for the legislative reforms that might occur.
Lilongwe North East legislator for the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Maxwell Thyolera,who is also Directors of elections for the party, said the Bills should be tabled as soon as possible and that Justice Minister should nit be shifting sand after he had opposed a motion MCP’s Peter Dimba tabled on Elections on the basis that government would be bringing Bills to the House on the matter in June.
“I want assuarance that the Bills will be tabled as soon as possible,” said Thyolera.
The Special Law Commission on the Review of the Electoral Law recommended the adoption of 50+1 system and scrapping the current First-Past-the-Post system which allows candidates to win the presidency by a simple majority.
The commission observed that the current system of electing the President has challenges regarding the issue of legitimacy where the winning candidate gets below 50 percent of the total votes.
MEC chairperson Jane Ansah already stated it can only adopt the 50+1 system of electing the country’s President in the 2019 Tripartite Elections if Parliament approves the proposed amendments before the end of this year.
Ansah said it would be difficult to implement the new law if passed close to the polls as the electoral body would have already reached an advanced stage in its preparations.
She said before implementation, the Constitution will also require an amendment in Section 80 (2) and Section 96 (5) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections (PPE) Act.
Meanwhile, the absence of the electoral reforms Bill would spark political trouble in the country, Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire warned in the House.
“The Secretary General of (ruling DPP Jeffrey wa Jeffrey) talked about teh Northern Region forgetting abpout producing a president for this country. That was careless statement. In Rwanda, one million people died [genocide] because of such careless statement,” Mkandawire said.
Government chief whip Henry Mussa accused Mkandawire of making “a very sensitive allegation”.
Said Mussa: “ He has referred to the Rwandan [genocide]. That is very serious matter which we must be careful with.”
Many opposition members observed that government is not willing to have the electoral reforms implemented.
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