Malawi Cabinet has no choice on 50+1, other electoral reforms

Recently Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu assured Malawians that government will table the 50+1 Bill alongside other proposed electoral reforms in November. The proposed electoral reforms will immensely benefit the country. But having come this far on the reforms, Cabinet now has no choice.

President Mutharika waves at MPs after opening parliament as Malawians are eagerly waiting to know if the 50+1 system will be used in the next polls due in 2019

Key among the benefits of the reforms as proposed by the Special Law Commission and being championed by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) are acceptability and legitimacy of the candidates. When a president has the support of the majority it becomes easy to govern. No one should worry about the cost of holding a re-run in the event that the first round of voting fails to produce a president. Government should plan for such an eventuality. There has never been a shortage of well-wishers to support a good cause. As a matter of fact, government has never on its own funded a presidential and parliamentary election.

Just as democracy is expensive—which we all accept as a good system—a perfection of the electoral system has many positives for the country. It should, therefore, not be a question of whether or not the Cabinet will accept the system. Was it not Cabinet itself which mandated the Special Law Commission to consult and advise on the 50 + 1 electoral system? Why should the same Cabinet now give the impression it could turn round and ignore the Commission’s recommendation? By mandating the Special Law Commission to consult on this issue, Cabinet put itself in a trap. It now has an obligation to follow the expert advice and will of the people.

But we know Cabinet’s cause for apprehension on the issue. President Peter Mutharika was chosen by a paltry 36 percent of the electorates—meaning that the majority of voters—64 percent—wanted other candidates for president. The fears originate from the fact that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may not be too sure if it has done enough since the last elections to turn the tables. This is especially so with the United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi’s tell-tale signs he might walk out of his coalition with the DPP.

The clear questions at the back of Cabinet and DPP members are: Can the economy turn the corner in the next 18 months to sway voters; and secondly; can the swathe of votes that UDF represents be guaranteed as a ready catch for the DPP candidate in the next elections? Both are not affirmative. DPP will obviously be looking up to the gods to give the country good rains for a second year running to guarantee a good harvest.

But as we have seen this year, that is not also enough to put money in people’s pockets. Government policies matter as much. Apart from people harvesting enough maize and other crops, government’s policies—such as the ban to export maize—has left millions of Malawians poorer.

Although government raised the price of maize to K170 per kilogramme (kg), the majority of them are still selling the grain at K75 per kg or less. They cannot wait for Admarc which is nowhere to be seen to come and buy the maize. Result? Never in the history of this country have Malawians been so poor as they are now.

The point I am making is that what Tembenu is telling the nation that there is political will to table the 50 +1 Bill and other electoral reforms is no longer an issue now. Cabinet has no choice but to let government table the Bill

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Santana! Kodi umadwala matenda anji? Iwe uli ndi tsoka lobadwanalo Khala choncho udzadabwa 2019.

bwabwalala mlakho wa a lomwe
bwabwalala mlakho wa a lomwe

Indeed cabinet has no choice but to bite the bullet before the nation degenerates into chaos. This so called president will not win, come rain, come sunshine. No one can vote for a party which promotes blackouts, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, quota system and the list of vices goes on and on. Only those who celebrating on peoples miseries still support this government because they are part of the equation to torture innocent Malawians. Please readers check the language of those who are supporting the status quo, it is mostly based on their individual happiness rather than on the national happiness.

Systems Thinker
Steve, Sounds a Juicy Idea. very. Neither Chakwera nor APM never had 50+% let alone 35+. Similarly, it might be the same in 2019. If two reruns produce same results, what does the proposed reform say? Have we really considered the practical implications of all this for a country like Malawi. You are fallaciously assuming that election sponsors will always support us but have you equally considered the implication of the whole process for a state like Malawi? I am of the view that we maintain the current practice, but strengthen our core governance structures. In the meantime, this will… Read more »
Yankho Yapuwa
To the best of my knowledge reruns are either between two candidates with the highest % of votes of candidates whose vote % is above a certain threshold. So in that regard it would in my opinion be highly unlikely to have only two candidates and the both tied at 50 %. Yes its costly but then democracy is expensive either way and if truth be told all these moneys being stolen as a result of govt’s unwillingness to close the loopholes in the financial management system would suffice to hold a rerun dont you think. I would think thats… Read more »
Lt. Fraser Chakhaza
Santana, while I respect your opinion is guts to support and speak for DPP I have a problem with your analysis and reasoning on current political trends in the country. Firstly it is naive to think that Malawians will vote for DPP and its bedfellow UDF just because of loyalty factor, forget about that. Secondly, your electoral mathematics in the event of the re-run are just another myth. You should accept to learn the truth. Malawians truly know that the current economic hardships, blackouts, water outages, shortage of drugs in hospitals, low education standards, closure of manufacturing companies, selling of… Read more »
James Mukiwa

Imagine a president being voted for by only 36% of nationals!!! Is that a national president? Or for the 36 out of 100 nationals? My case is rested!!!!!

The MCP is banking its win on a re-run. This hope can be to those who are politically blind. Apart from MCP the only strong party in the opposition is the UDF. Chakwera would wish to have support from all the parties in the opposition in a re-run but it will not be so. Obviously UDF will vote for her bedfellow, the DPP as per the wishes of the party Tcheya. All the other parties in the opposition are just history. PP is no more. The PP south will obviously go back to its mother party, the DPP. Those who… Read more »
James Mukiwa

Bwana, wake up and live alive!!!! dreaming won’t do you good. Better be honest to yourself before trying to be honest to others!!! My president has lost the plot. Imagine if elections wee to be done today. (you know the truth, he can’t make it!!!) Enough is enough!!!!!

Wishful thinking Santana! 50+1 or none, MCP & Chakwera will get the much needed votes right in the very first round of 2019 general elections. Your wish will noted be granted this time around, you have stolen, abducted & killed enough. In 2019 your candidate will be 80 years old, not good enough age for the highest position in Malawi. You better find anther candidate well in advance before it’s too late. Remember Chakwera doesn’t need the 50+1 bill to become president in 2019. He will sail through outright. Whether you like it or not, your DPP candidate will not… Read more »

This bill and other related bills must be tabled come rain or sunshine.

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