Analyst backs PAC’s ultimatum on Malawi Electoral Reforms

A local governance analyst has welcomed the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) 6-days ultimatum directed to President Peter Mutharika and Parliament to act on the electoral reforms as proposed by the Special Law Commission on the review of electoral laws.

PAC’s Vice Chairperson Osman Karim reading the petition addressed to the Speaker

PAC’s publicity secretary Fr. Mulomole addressing the gathering at Parliament building

The influential  quasi-religious group  joined by some key civil society leaders and citizens of Malawi on Thursday petitioned the Executive and Parliament to table electoral and local government bills by 29th November 2017.

“We, therefore, appeal to Your Honor, as Head of Legislative arm of Government to have Electoral and Local Government Act Reforms Bills tabled, debated and passed now rather than later. You may wish to know that should Government fail to table the reforms Bills by 29th November, 2017, PAC will have no any other option but swiftly  hold a  peaceful  march nationwide,” reads part of PAC’s petition addressed to the Speaker of National Assembly .

Similarly, PAC partly petitioned President Mutharika as follows:

“We, the undersigned, members of PAC Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, Representatives of Mother Bodies and Interest Groups petition your good Office to do the following…Ensure that Electoral Act Reforms Bill, including the 50%+1 are tabled, debated and passed during the current sitting of Parliament. Be warned that ignoring the 50%+1 is a recipe for disaster as we approach the forthcoming 2019 tripartite elections… You may wish to know that should Government fail to table the reforms Bills by 29th November, 2017, PAC will have no any other option but swiftly hold a peaceful march nationwide”.

However, responding to a Nyasa Times questionnaire as to whether PAC’s actions were justified, a Lilongwe-based governance analyst Makhumbo Munthali said the need for government and Parliament to table and enact the electoral reforms was time-bound hence governance watchdog was right to push for such ultimatums.

“It has to be said from the very onset that government through the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu SC and then the Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa already made commitments earlier during their engagement with PAC to table these Bills in the current November sitting. As such PAC’s reminder to government to honour its pledge cannot be treated as unrealistic as government knew beforehand that this is feasible,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.

However, it is the missing of electoral bills in both the President’s address and government’s reported list of Bills to be tabled in the current sitting which has raised more suspicion amongst Malawians with many perceiving this an act of betrayal of public trust.

“ All this coupled by the fact that most of the electoral reforms are time-bound, that is they have to be tabled, debated and enacted now or never in view of 2019 elections, PAC is duty-bound as the voice of the voiceless to give such ultimatums,” said Munthali, a former national secretary of the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission of Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) and also Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR)

Munthali cited the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, the Elections Management Fund Bill, and the Assumption of Office of President (Transitional Arrangements) Bill as some of the key elections Bill that were time-bound to be tabled, debated and enacted in the current November sitting.

The Electoral Reforms Bills include an amendment of Section 80(2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act proposing 50+1 percent majority in presidential election and an amendment of Section 81 (3) of the Constitution for swearing-in of the President and Vice-President to be done after 30 days.

“If we can have those electoral reform areas requiring legislation enacted in the current sitting, this means various stakeholders including electoral commission, government, civil society and development partners can have at least a full year to plan in advance on how to successfully carryout various electoral related activities likecivic education in readiness of the 2019 Tripartite elections,” said Munthali.

Munthali also downplayed fears  from some ruling DPP’s sympathisers that the proposed 50+1 electoral system was targeting the current ruling party.

“This is not true…. Firstly, the central argument of the 50+1 electoral system is to enhance legitimacy to govern where the power to govern is derived from the majority of the people. It raises serious legitimacy concerns where you have a leader who was rejected by 64% of the voting population. How can such a leader claim to have been mandated by the people to govern? Secondly, the calls for a 50+1 electoral system can be traced to the 2006/2007 Law Commission conference where after nationwide consultations the Commission recommended for this system.

“Besides, the “CHRR’s 20 months assessment of Joyce Banda: missed opportunity to reclaim public trust” report published prior to 2014 elections recommended the Joyce Banda administration to act on the 50+1 electoral system. All this coupled by the unwavering  efforts by the Law Commission PAC and MESN to have the system in place it is clear that 50+1 system is there not to serve political interest but rather address legitimacy concerns. So, instead of fighting 50+1 electoral system political parties like DPP should rededicate their efforts in turning around the political and economic situation in the country in order to earn public trust and confidence to necessitate them in attaining the 50+1 threshold in the very first round.”

The PAC decision to petition the President and the Speaker coincided with threats by leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera to boycott National Assembly proceedings if the proposed laws are not taken to Parliament.

Two civil society organisations—Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep)—are also lobbying members of Parliament to boycott the proceedings.

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bbc
Guest

After more than 20 years of experimenting with multiparty system of government, it is clear to some of us that this system of government is a recipe for the disintegration of our nation.The system has brought nothing but divisions among Malawians.May be its time we went back to the one party system of government.

Che Wanimiliyoni
Guest
Ever since Bingu started his unorthodox style of leadership just after the 2009 elections PAC has showed great bias against DPP. First it sought refugee in JB’s PP but soon after its comrade in God industry took helm at MCP its actions are clearly in favour of putting him in power. Why if I may ask is PAC not mentioning the disadvantages of 50+1 method of choosing a president? PAC and others may be right that the system is working elsewhere but not in environment like ours where we have 3 polar political regions. Everywhere when you have 3 people… Read more »
sugarf free
Guest

Palibe kulowela cha mutu 2019 majority should rule kaya azawina pitara kaya m’busa Koma vote yake fifty plus uno basi

santana
Guest

In a re-run it is likely that UDF, majority of PP south, will vote for APM. Tell me who will vote for abusa? Which strong party in the opposition will go for MCP leader, tell me? Mr ”Santana” you are just cheating yourself if you think MCP has a chance in a re-run. This bill will only benefit DPP if people don’t know.

Santana
Guest

Mpaneni kwambiri mutuwo, watsala pang’ono nayenso agwa chagada ngati zijazi.

Omex70
Guest

We need 50+1 yomweyo basi nothing else.

Khwangwala wapana one T
Guest
Khwangwala wapana one T

Koma eeeeeeeeh eish ,mpanipani ulipo,kikikiki kanthu akoooooo

Malawi Has Spoken phiri
Guest
Malawi Has Spoken phiri

PAC is lost. The economy cannot support presidential re-runs needed in 50+1. Why should people que more than one time when a winner has clearly passed the post

nyenyezi
Guest

That’s the problem with us Malawians kuzolowera zachabe 50+1 is the way to as for me I can quech as many times as I can only to have the right president in place, whoever is fearing 50+1 is just fearing for the unknown ndiye kuti akuziwa kuti sakuchita bwino polamulira dziko lino as evidenced by 5-1 in the by-elections DPP sympathizer sorry Malawi wa lero ndi wanthawi ya OKamuzu Banda ndi wina in Kenya they are able to why not us

yosefu mateyu
Guest

Anyway 50%+1 has now worked in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as South Africa.

Future president
Guest

The people were already consulted by the Law Commission and they themselves said they would like to queue twice if it’s neccessary to elect a leader with ample legitimacy. You want to worry for them?Talking about the economy please note that the elections budget is mostly actually supported by donors. What are your worries?

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