Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera has issued a stern warning to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to bring during the current Parliamentary sitting the Electoral Reforms Bills as well as the Local Government Reforms Bills or face revolt.
Chakwera said government should table the bills to uphold the will of Malawians.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, Chakwera , who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, has categorically denied published reports that he asked government to delay the 50+1 provision, saying it is cheap propaganda.
The Nation newspaper cited unnamed source saying MCP is equally not comfortable with the 50+1 proposal to replace the much-maligned First-Past-the-Post and claimed two MCP MPs from Kasungu and two others from Lilongwe corroborated the matter.
But Chakwera said to set the record straight, as recently as three weeks ago,he publicly demanded that the DPP-led government should fulfill its promise to Malawians that the six Electoral Reforms Bill he has been demanding would be brought to Parliament for tabling in the current seating.
“In fact, after noticing that President Mutharika’s opening address made no commitment to fulfill that promise, I publicly threatened that I and the MCP would boycott proceedings unless Government committed to bring the Bills, which is when Government leaders in the house committed to bring the bills,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said after waiting in vain for two weeks for Mutharika’s cabinet to bring the Bills, last week he called Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu and leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa to hold them accountable for the continued delays.
The Leader of the Opposition said the two Ministers explained that some of the Bills have been cleared through Cabinet and some had not.
“In good faith, I not only told the two ministers that Malawians are expecting the Bills, but I also insisted that while Cabinet is clearing some of the Bills, the ones it has already cleared should be tabled immediately as proof that Government has the Bills,” said Chakwera.
“The agreement was to have them bring the bills that are ready rather than wait until all of them are ready. Our position has not changed on the 50+1 issue. Anything that strengthens our democracy is what MCP supports,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said Malawians deserve to know.
“And the truth is that this malicious lie not only contradicts the facts of the meeting I called for with the two government ministers to confront them about the delays, but it also contradicts both what I said to the reporter [of The Nation newspaper] and what I have consistently pushed and lobbied for on your behalf for over two years, as the following public record clearly shows,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera has since sent 15 news links which set the MCP and his position clear on the bill dating as back as 2015.
Nankhumwa described the meeting with MCP as normal House business.
“We had a meeting yes and it is normal for leader of the House to meet leader of opposition. By the way, we meet almost every day during Parliament session because we all sit in the business committee. But I am not in a position to share what we discussed, because doing so would be unethical for me,” he said.
Meanwhile, diplomats who included British High Commissioner Holly Tett, Norwegian Ambassador Kikkan Haugen and USA envoy Virginia Palmer, indicated that they expected government to table the Electoral Reforms Bills in this meeting of Parliament.
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