Malawi government is panicking as the clock ticks to December 13 a day set by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to hold nationwide protests to push for the processing of the Electoral Reforms Bills in Parliament and has said it will this Monday circulate the two remaining pieces of legislation, including the 50-plus-one electoral system which has generated excitement among some political parties and analysts in Malawi who have backed the practice, describing it as feasible.
“We are circulating the 50-plus-one Bill and the remaining Bills [on Monday],” Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa said.
Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said Cabinet last Friday finalised the scrutiny of the proposed laws which is similar to what neighbouring Zambia uses in terms of 50 percent-plus-one.
Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera reaffirmed his party’s commitment to have the proposed electoral reforms bill deliberated upon and passed during the current sitting of Parliament.
He said the proposed bills if enacted predetermine a good future for the country which is currently faced with huge economic and social challenges.
“They have started to bring some of the bills and they are promising to bring all of them, but we have demanded that they give us a synopsis of what they intend to do and give us more time to scrutinise them and make amendments where necessary. We will not accept this kind of tokenism that government is trying to do,” Chakwera said.
He said there is need for an extension for the current sitting of Parliament so that members of Parliament truthfully serve their constituents through deliberation of the bills.
Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Grace Chiumia is on record saying President Peter Mutharika’s administration is not in support of the proposed electoral reforms, especially the proposal to above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a rerun in the presidential election.
Previously, Zambia, just like Malawi, had been using the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) or winner-takes-all system to elect presidents, members of Parliament (MPs) and ward councillors.
Under the 50+1 electoral system, the triumphant contender is decided on the basis of getting a majority 50 percent plus one of the votes to win.
In Malawi, a simple majority is currently required for one to win the presidency without provision for a runoff election, a development some commentators have argued has tended to put leaders with no national mandate in office.
Out of the five general elections since the transition to multiparty democracy in 1993, three candidates have made it to State House with less than 50 percent of the popular vote.
In the first post-independence multiparty elections in 1994, Bakili Muluzi won the presidency with 47 percent although later, in his second term, won with 52 percent in 1999.
In 2004, the late Bingu wa Mutharika made it with 36 percent, but his approval rating surged to 66 percent five years later in 2009. His younger brother, Peter, in 2014 secured the presidency with about 36 percent of the votes cast.
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 percent+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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :