Malawi, as a country, is guided by laws which make up the Malawi Constitution, which is popularly known as the supreme law of the land. The Constitution is expected to pass the test of time. However, some sections can change if the people of Malawi find it necessary. For example, in 1993, when Malawians voted for multiparty politics, relevant sections of the Constitution had to change to accommodate political pluralism.
It is common knowledge that laws are made not with particular persons in mind. Therefore, it is really surprising that some politicians seem to think that certain laws are targeting them. This is pure shallow mindedness. It is such a mindset which resulted into Electoral Reforms Bills being reject in Parliament by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators and their supporters.
To start with, the Peter Mutharika government presented in Parliament a 50+1 Bill by including MPs and councillors as opposed to recommendations by the Special Law Commission, which stated that the 50+1 is only for the presidential candidate for the time being. The rejection of the Bill was pretty obvious because at some point the Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Grace Chiumia was once reported addressing a public meeting where she said the Government does not want the 50+1 Bill and will not support it.
Therefore, the rejection was well planned, though the reasons were not clear. It only sounds illogical and bizarre that the Government can go all out to reject a Bill that it has presented to Parliament. This means that presentation of the 50+1 Bill was a mere window dressing exercise to hoodwick the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), which had promised Government, in earnest, to stop national demonstrations if the Bill will be presented and passed in Parliament. This level of cheating, that Government showed, just proves that it is not reputable and not trustworthy.
Meanwhile, the rejection of 50+1 and other Electoral Reforms Bills has created a lot of public debate. The Government seems to have a wrong perception that the Bills are targeting President Peter Mutharika in a sense that he is bound to lose the 2019 General Elections if he doesn’t get the 50+1 because it is assumed that the opposition parties will gang up under one candidate in the second-round, and win the election.
The question is: What is wrong if another presidential candidate wins? DPP must know that it has no monopoly to rule for ever in a multi-party set-up. In fact, any sensible presidential candidate should be willing to go for the second-round of voting, to prove his popularity and legitimacy by being elected by the majority of voters.
At the moment, it can be stated that it is a well-known fact that when laws are made in Malawi, they are not made with a particular person in mind. Therefore, it is wrong to assume that the new electoral laws are targeting Mutharika. Those people who subscribe to this way of thinking should know better that Mutharika will not be the country’s president for life. Just as he took over the presidency from another person, he will also leave it for another person, and the laws will continue being applied.
In fact, there is no democratic country which can spend money making laws to suit a particular leader. In Malawi, laws are made for the people of Malawi, regardless of their political affiliations. Therefore, it is myopic for anyone to think that he is more important to the extent that laws are targeting him. One can only appeal to parliamentarians to act professionally and not be divided by the so-called important people and vote wrongly as they did on the 50+1 Bill.