A daily influential newspaper in Malawi, The Nation has come out in favour of an extension of the current meeting of the National Assembly to allow more time for debate and processing of the Electoral Reforms Bills, saying the decision-makers should “expedite” the process.
Initially, the ongoing first meeting of the 47th Session of Parliament was set to end on December 15 this year.
In an editorial on Friday, the paper said the justification for the request to extend the meeting would give the House ample time to scrutinise and debate the much talked about Electoral Reforms Bill some of whose provisions, notably the 50-plus-one system of electing the country’s President, have stirred tension and a heated debate.
“We are in support of the proposed extension in as long as it allows for the processing of the critical pieces of legislation,” the paper said.
It urged those entrusted with making the final decision on the extension to expedite the process “for ease of planning.”
The paper said it is “critical” that where necessary, the most cost-effective way of funding the extension of the meeting be devised.
Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said he needed more time to consult, saying the extension will depend on resources as MPs to meet just for a week they spend at least K200 million.
In a Report on the Review of the Electoral Laws to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in March this year, the Malawi Law Commission recommended the following bills collectively called Electoral Reforms Bills: Constitution (Amendment), Electoral Commission (Amendment), Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) and Local Government Elections Act, Assumption of the Office of President (Transitional Arrangement) and Referendum.
The most contentious of the bills relate to the amendment of Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the PPE Act to provide for a change of the electoral system from a simple majority to a majority of more than 50 percent in the presidential race.
Government has come under pressure from opposition and civil society organisations (CSOs) to table the bills as promised by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu in June.
Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a quasi-religious organisation, has since organised nationwide protest marches to push for the enactment of the proposed laws in the current meeting of Parliament. The demonstrations are set for December 13.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :