Malawian civil society organisations (CSO) are calling on legislators to boycott the 47th session of Parliament to be opened by President Peter Mutharika this Friday until Cabinet approve the Electoral Reforms Bill that should be on the lists if business to be deliberated in the august House.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has all along been assuring people that the bill will be tabled during this sitting of parliament.
However, the Electoral Reforms Bill including the 50+1 electoral system for deciding the presidential vote is not among the six Bills to be tabled in the National Assembly expected to start convening this Friday.
The development has forced Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) to lobby legislators to boycott parliament until Electoral Reforms Bills are tabled in the House.
The two organisations said the absence of the Bills was an indication that the reforms were not a priority to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government.
“Malawians are keen to see the passing of 50+1 electoral system so that the national leaders should be elected by the majority,” said the two human rights bodies.
A statement jointly signed by Cedep executive director Gift Trapence and his CHRR counterpart Timothy Mtambo, the CSOs noted that based on government’s previous actions on laws, they suspect this is another calculated move to delay the electoral reforms process again.
“We have every reason to be suspicious because it is clear that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has not been in favour of the bills and is clearly seeking ways to further delay it. This betray of the highest order.
“We also call upon Malawians to rise up and demand commitment from the government to present the bills. Reforms to the electoral systems are critical to free, fair and transparent elections as the country prepares for the 2019 general elections,” the statement made available to Nyasa Times, reads in part.
Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa confirmed that government has not presented the electoral reforms Bill to Parliament because Cabinet is still “scrutinising” the pieces of legislation.
He promised that Cabinet would meet in not too distant future to discuss the bills and it would be gazetted before being presented to the House.
The Special Law Commission on the Review of Electoral Law recommended the enactment of six pieces of legislation, among them one which would provide for the transition between one President to another.
The Bills, collectively called Electoral Reforms Bill, are Constitution (Amendment), Electoral Commission (Amendment), Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections, Assumption of the Office of President (Transitional Arrangement) and Referendum.
In the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, President Peter Mutharika won the presidential election with 36 percent of the votes cast while Lazarous Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) came second with 27 percent.
If Malawi had a 50-plus-one electoral system, there would have been a rerun of the presidential election after May 20 2014.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :