The quasi-religious governance watchdog Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has said it will march peacefully to Kamuzu Palace, the official residence of President Peter Mutharika in Lilongwe, to present a petition over the missing of Electoral Reforms and Local Government Council Composition laws in the business schedule of the current sitting in Parliament.
PAC made its resolutions after its emergency board meeting in Blantyre after noting the absence of Electoral Reforms Bills on the agenda for the ongoing Parliament meeting.
The proposed laws, six in total, are missing from the Order Paper—an outline of business to be transacted in Parliament— but in an elusive statement Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said he would table them.
PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota, said the organisation which has lobbied the government, opposition and the Speaker on the bills, met to discuss the way forward after noting that government has not included the bills on the agenda.
“We are of the opinion that issues of elections are actually at the heart of national life and tampering with issues of elections is actually tampering with the lives of people,” said Chingota.
He said the march will be held next week Tuesday and that the clergy will be in their full regalia.
“After petitioning the President we will present another petition to the Speaker of Parliament, asking him to consider the two matters as priorities,” said Chingota.
Civil society organisations (CSOs), notably Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), last week appealed to members of Parliament (MPs) to boycott proceedings if the bills are not indicated on the business for the current meeting.
Opposition parties are firm on boycotting proceedings unless government commits to table the proposed laws.
Dedza North West MP Alekeni Menyani (MCP) wondered why the Bill has not appeared on notices and said their action is adding to the lies they have been feeding Malawians for long.
“Government must not hold us to ransom. We have had enough of these lies. For how long are we going to hold our patience?” he said.
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+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.