Outspoken Rumphi East member of Parliament (MP) Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party-PP) has accused the government of ambushing Malawians by circulating in Parliament pieces of legislation in the Electoral Reforms Bill which are not what Malawi Law Commission proposed.
Government has rejected several recommendations of the Special Law Commission and introduced new provisions including extending the 50 plus one system of electing the country’s President to include members of Parliament and ward councillors.
The government has made so many changes in the final three Bills which, among other things, call for a majority threshold (50 percent + 1) vote law that will see the country receding from the winner-takes-it-all scenario of electing the president.
“The Bill that was proposed by the Law Commission is not the one that is before us,” protested Kalua, one of the politicians who fought against one-party dictatorship and championed the multiparty democracy.
“Is it in order, Mr . Speaker Sir, that we have this [adulterated Bill,” he asked.
But Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya said what the Law Commission submits to government is not always what Parliament gets as the Cabinet discuss and make some considerations before a Bill goes to National Assembly.
“The reason Cabinet meets is to reshape the bills. The idea is for you to see the bills that have been presented to you,” said Msowoya.
“What will come out of this House is not what they will have presented. What will come out is what Parliament will have decided that this is the law. That is the process. That is what I can say,” he said.
Meanwhile, the country’s influential daily newspaper. The Nation, has said government should not table the ‘adulterated’ Bill.
In its editorial comment in Tuesday’s edition, the paper said it is “simply ridiculous” and “laughable” for the President Peter Mutharika’s government to table an adulterated Bill the same as it did with the Access to Information Bill.
The paper said the inclusion of MPs in the 50 plus one system, government wants to “run away” from responsibility should legislators reject it.
“The terms of electing a State President cannot be equated to those for electing MPs. Doing so would be comparing apples and oranges,” reads the comment.
It noted that one major difference is the minimum age for a presidential candidate – which is 35 years – while for MPs, anyone who can vote is eligible to become an MP.
The paper says applying 50 plus one system to MPs would be costly and that those countries like Zambia where the 50 plus one system law has been adopted. It does not apply to the election of MPs let alone ward councillors.
“We understand why government is so paranoid about the 50 + 1 Bill. President Peter Mutharika won with a paltry 36 percent of the votes. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is aware it has not delivered on the promises it made to the people for its president to win with a majority of the votes,” reads the comment.
The paper said the 50 percent + 1 Bill is not targeting Mutharika, saying it is for the public good whose benefits will be there long after the current President is out of office and urged the DPP to have national interest rather than “selfish partisan interest.”
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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :