Electoral reforms bill not ready for Malawi parliament: MPs to discuss 12 new bills

Malawi government will not introduce a Bill to discuss all electoral reforms in the four-week sitting of parliament starting Monday  despute Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the official opposition in Parliament, threatenung to call for ‘peaceful’ civil disobedience.

Chaponda: 12 new bills

Chaponda: 12 new bills

MCP demanded government to  bring to Parliament all relevant electoral reforms Bills and if government is not ready, the party demanded  President  Peter Mutharika to “resign” or  threaten to call for “civil disobedience.”

But leader of the house George Chaponda has said government is not tabling any  legislation on poll reforms.

He said the Cabinet has nodded to 12 new bils including the amendment of Political Parties Registration Bill and Money Laundering Act.

“There will be 12 new bills,” said Chaponda, adding that the  list of the  proposed bills will be published on Wednesday.

MCP president  Lazarous Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition, said his party can bring forward poll reforms legislation as a private members motion.

He did not indicate if that would be tabled in the sitting starting this week.

MCP spokesperson Alekeni Menyani said his party wants the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to implement the proposal of moving MEC headquarters to Lilongwe and that announcements of results during a national election should be made at the constituency level.

Some of the key reforms MCP wants discussed are the merit of shifting to 50-plus-one system from the current first-past-the-post and the amendment of electoral laws.

In the electoral reform recommendations, stakeholders, among others, recommended the amendment of the  Parliamentary  and  Presidential  Elections Act  and  the  Local  Government  Elections  Act to be integrated into a single Election Act.

The stakeholders also recommended  financing of political campaigns be legislated to ensure transparency and accountability.

Further, the reforms propose a law to allow better management of the transition from polling day to the inauguration of the President and Vice-President to ensure sufficient time for a petition to be resolved prior to inauguration.

The stakeholders also called for amendment of  Section 77 of the Constitution to establish the age of voter eligibility to be 18 years of age or older, on the day of the election and  on  polling as well as Section  67(1)  of  the  Constitution  for  general  elections  to  be conducted in September rather than May.

Other recommendations include empowering MEC to issue subsidiary legislation:  in line with international best practice, the MEC should be empowered to issue Regulations on its key areas of competence and the election process under the Electoral Commission Act.

Recommendations were to establish a specific offence for vote buying (whether by handouts or other means) should be included in the election laws, as well as the Corrupt Practices Act to deter vote buying and staggered announcement of results as follows; seven days for the President, 14 days for  National Assembly and 21 days for local councils.

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