CHRR spits out on Malawi electoral reforms

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has condemned the nature in which the Electoral Reforms Bills have been handled.

Mtambo:MPs must always consider the principle of the common good before anything else

CHRR executive director, Timothy Mtambo, said that the way the members of Parliament (MPs) handled themselves on the issue of the bill was a disappointment.

But CHRR highlighted that the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) acted soberly on the issue.

“They reasoned for the popularity, and we think it is going to be good and favorable for the populace and country. Our politicians must be representative and we applaud MCP MPs for standing up for the voiceless, in this case, we mean people who are seriously underprivileged, “said CHRR executive director.

He added: “From our perspective, Fifty plus one is for the good of the masses. Our expectation was that all members of parliament were going to be mature enough in soberly deliberating that crucial bill irrespective of personal and political interest.”

Mtambo emphasized that MPs must always consider the principle of the common good before anything else.

CHRR has categorically dismissed misleading suggestions by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some quarters that PAC and others have ambushed government and Parliament on the Reforms when in actual fact government already committed itself to tabling these Bills a long time back in April 2017 – meaning it had ample time to prepare for the tabling of these Bills.

Said Mtambo: “So what PAC and other stakeholders have all along been doing on the issue is to simply remind government on its earlier pledge based on the constitutional principle that those who govern do so on sustained trust of the people. It is in this regard that we view the remarks by the Minister of Justice Honorable Samuel Tembenu on the demands by PAC and others as out of order, and if anything such remarks are an attempt to institutionalize impunity.”

According to Mtambo, the current regime hired mercenary CSOs aimed at blocking the citizens’ voice on electoral reforms by spreading the lie that there has not been enough consultations on electoral reforms particularly the 50+1 electoral system.

He said: “We recall that some of these mercenary CSOs were also hired by the previous regime to fight the mainline CSOs attempts to hold the then government accountable.  While CHRR recognizes that every citizen has freedom of expression, we believe attempts to mislead the nation on the reforms are unacceptable. We would like to remind the current regime and these so-called CSOs that the call for the 50+1 electoral system, the need to have transition procedures and elections management fund amongst others were born out of thorough nationwide consultations with key ones traced as far as 2006/7 as climaxed in the Constitutional review.

“It was clear since then that these issues had generated public endorsement hence the April Special Law Commission report’s recommendations to have them legislated. Besides, in ‘our 20 months assessment of Joyce Banda in office: a missed opportunity to reclaim public trust statement’ led by CHRR and Cedep, we reminded government on the need to prioritize the 50+1 electoral system. It is in this regard that we view such attempts to frustrate the electoral reforms in general and the 50+1 electoral reform in particular as ill-founded.

CHRR is a human rights organization started in 1995. And it focuses on human rights, democracy and governance. —Additional reporting by Pius Nyondo, Nyasa Times.

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We have the opportunity to establish a democratic electoral system that will be the envy of the world. I hope we don’t miss it. We could give the Americans and the British a lesson.

As a result of the flaws in their system, the Americans are stuck with an idiot who got three million votes less than his opponent, and as for the British . . . well, the least said the better.

Please, Parliamentarians – do the right thing.

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