Malawi’s Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) said the country should address the need for electoral reform in Malawi.
CONGOMA, whose mandate is to coordinate NGOs in Malawi and represent their interests and concerns, says in the statement issued by its chairperson Steven Duwa, that government should exercise its powers and quickly take appropriate measures to restore peace and calm, law and order in the country
The statement comes in the wake of fresh round of demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly residing over a flawed electoral process.
Congoma says the Courts should be given space to dispense justice with regards to the electoral disputes without being impeded, pressurized or intimidated.
It says enjoyment of Constitutional rights is not absolute and exclusive to a particular group of individuals and must always go with responsibility.
“This is the right time for a conversation on electoral reforms to start in earnest without fear or personal egos but focusing on Malawi’s future elections,” reads the statement
The Special Law Commission was tasked with electoral reforms in Malawi after the 2014 Tripartite Elections and it presented its final report to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in April 2017.
Some have questioned whether the manner in which commissioners are appointed undermines the independence and integrity of MEC. Yet others have questioned the suitability of the first-past-the-post system in the light of the political realities of Malawi. Many more issues have been raised in relation to the electoral processes in this country and the proposed reforms speak comprehensively to these issues.
CONGOMA says law enforcers should act on criminal elements who are involved in amaging and looting of property of individuals, public and corporate entities during demonstrations.
“Destroying people’s businesses [which is] a source of livelihood in the exercise of the right to demonstrate is uncalled for [and] that harassment, wounding and victimization of state security agents and innocent civilians alike is unwarranted and condemned strongly.
“Breaking the law with impunity is disheartening. All offenders should be brought to account so that there is rule of law which is a very central tenet of democracy,” the body said.
On one hand, CONGOMA says it is very pleased to note that Malawians are beginning to come to terms with their 1998 aspiration expressed in the Vision 2020 in which they wanted to see a mature democracy in Malawi.
“In this vein, human rights are the epicentre of human dignity. They are a distinguishable means through which a man can express himself or herself which is the manifestation of his or her very existence.
“These have manifested in many ways including questioning the validity of national processes like tri-partite election results through Constitutional means like public demonstrations and petitioning the courts as a matter of a right.
“This is power of the people and a good element for democracy to thrive.Engagements among ordinary Malawians through different social media platforms, groups and social gatherings on issues of elections promotes civic space and sovereignty of the governed which strengthens participatory democracy.”
CONGOMA also calls upon authorities to implement Access to Information law without further delay.
Moving forward, CONGOMA says as the holders of human rights and fundamental freedoms, all individuals, peoples, and communities in the exercise of their rights and freedoms, have the duty and responsibility to respect those of others.
“A political solution is probably the most viable and sustainable way if Malawi is to be united with or without the Court determination”.
CONGOMA stated that under the current situation, legal settlement may not be adequate — “there is need for political settlement to compliment it.”
Despite strong pressure from CSOs and donors, who funded the Special Law Commission reforms on electoral laws, the previous Parliament rejected the reforms.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :