Malawi govt to take ‘50+1 electoral law to Parliament – Justice Minister

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has indicated that government will table a Bill of the electoral reform following Special Law Commission consultations that will lead to a fair voting system, so that after the next election in 2019 Malawians can see leaders at the front of a government that reflects the votes of the people.

Kamanga (left) Supreme Court Judge chairing the Special Law Commission on electoral reforms with Minister of Justice Tembenu

The Special Law Commission found that the election of the president through the present ‘first-past-the-post’ mode has challenges regarding issues of legitimacy where the winner gets less than 50 percent of votes cast.

To address the challenge the commission recommends that for a person to be declared winner in an election the person must amass at least 50+1 percent of the total votes cast.

Tembenu told representatives of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) that there is political will towards changing the system and that the Executive will take to Parliament in November proposed electoral laws and it is possible to adopt the proposals before the 2019 elections.

The opposition and the civil society have been pushing for the need for electoral reforms.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is also proposing  a new section, Section 93 (2) which states that “all recordings in relation to the number of votes, just voters and ballot papers shall be recorded in both Arabic numerals and words” to deter alteration of results at the district tally centre where results from constituencies are tallied.

To ensure that the correct results reach the district tally centre, the opposition wants the electoral law that seeks to establish constituency tally centres by deleting the words ‘polling station’ from Sections 94 and 95 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) and substituting them with ‘constituency tally centre.’

The constituency tally centre will be where all results from the polling centres will be tallied.

A political science associate professor at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Mustapha Hussein, points out that although the 50+1 has its demerits, for instance, costs as it may require enormous resources for the second round voting in case no presidential candidate gets outright absolute majority in the first round; the system addresses problems that include the issue of regionalism.

“This is because the electorate across the country and regions will be required to vote in the two-round system for a presidential candidate who may not come from their region,” he noted.

But Hussein said the 50+1 system enables the candidate who enjoys absolute majority to assume the office of the president; such a candidate will enjoy credibility and legitimacy as he or she will have the support of the majority.

“We have seen candidates with 35 percent of the total votes assuming the office on the flipside meaning 65 percent did not vote for such candidates. This has important implications on the acceptability and legitimacy of such candidates. It is important that as a nation Malawi should adopt an electoral system that will lead to widely accepted results and a leader recognised   by most Malawians,” he stated.

President Peter Mutharika appointed the GTT following the outcome of an audience the quasi-religious institution had with him on April 21, 2016 where PAC presented resolutions from its February 2016 Fifth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference.

The two sides met at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.

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Taking the history of Malawi on voting pattern the MCP will achieve nothing from this 50+1 system. Let us assume that APM and Chakwera competes on a re-run. The votes from the north will be shared equally, or APM slightly ahead taking advantage of being the ruling party. The central region everyone knows that APM has penetrated to the extent of getting a few MPs. In some areas where he cannot win a Parliamentary seat he can still get considerable votes for the presidency. In the center we can mention districts like NKK, Salima, Ntcheu, and part of LL where… Read more »
Tenzi Mzungu

Mr Hussein what is wrong for people to vote on regional lines? What do we mean by strong base? You don’t impress me as a political commentator. You are all afraid of DPP winning again.


Of course there is fear of DPP winning again. They continue to damage the country… we don’t want them to continue as the head of our nation.


50+1 for what?? PAPASI???? The one with the majority votes carries the day period.


Dpp will do everything to shoot the bill


Great. The only Minister in dpp govt who I view very logical and sensitive when it comes to decision making. Bravo Hon Tembenu I know may be its because you come from Salima in the strong hold of MCP. You are not member of Parliament but you are not bootlicker you are straight forward.


good move indeed and lets democracy prevail


Hypothesis: Supposing a Presidential candidate gets 50+1 votes mainly from one region and very few from another region. Will you consider that as majority win across the whole nation?

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