Malawi opposition leader says electoral reforms bill ‘non-negotiable’,  support CSOs call for Parliament boycott

Malawi Congress Party (MCP)president and leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera see sense in the suggestion by civil society organisations (CSOs) that  legislators should  boycott Parliament until Electoral Reforms Bills are tabled in the House.

MCP legislators in the House

Two vocal civil society organisations (CSOs)—Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR)— argue that Cabinet’s failure to approve the proposed Electoral Reforms Bills, as pledged by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu in Parliament in May this year, was a betrayal to Malawians.

And in his address in Parliament on Monday, Chakwera pointed out that the government promised that the Electoral Reforms Bills that Malawians are demanding would be tabled during this sitting of Parliament, but to the dismay of all Malawians, President Peter Mutharika did not even bother to explain “why this promise is being tossed onto their mountainous pile of broken promises.”

He said even though many hours and resources have already been invested by so many stakeholders in the electoral reforms process, the President did not even mention the bills in his address when he opened the 47th session of Prliament last Friday to set the tone for deliberations in the House.

“Mr. Speaker Sir, the only reason why Lilongwe South MP  has resuscitated the Private Member’s Bill on Electoral Reforms is because, even from the President’s speech, it is clear that you cannot trust this elusive and slippery government to do what it says. And I want to state in no uncertain terms that because the Electoral Reforms Bills are the will of the people, Government’s commitment to table them in this sitting of Parliament as promised is non-negotiable, failing which we will have no choice but to boycott proceedings as the people we represent have directed us to,” said Chakwera.

The Malawi Law Commission proposed at least six Bills in its report to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs which includes changing the current simple majority [First-Past-the-Post] system of electing a President to the 50+1 system.

The country’s authoritative daily newspaper, The Nation, is also on record backing the boycott calls, saying the proposal is “as noble as it is wise  because foe a long time, the DPP administration has been getting away with so many things, taking advantage of our passivity and indiffenrence to issues of governance and statecraft.”

The publication made the stand in its editorial comment in which is stated that government should not be allowed to continue giving Malawians “ a raw deal” on crucial matters of national interest such as the proposed electoral reforms.

“The current electoral systems has bred dissatisfaction among Malawians with some calling for federalism, others secession. All this, smacks of people’s frustration, displeasure with a leadership that rises on minority votes, in the process alienating themselves with the majority who are expected to support their policies and development agenda,” the paper said.

It said electoral reforms are “fair principles” that should be given space to govern Malawi democracy, otherwise the nation will continue to slide into th abyss of destruction.

Meanwhile, Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa has said as government they have no problems or any fears in bringing the electoral reforms bill for debate in Parlaiment.

In an interview Nankhumwa said  Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu will give the roadmap of the Bill .

“As a leader of government business in the house I will also be anxiously waiting to hear from the Minister of Justice what they are going to bring to the business committee, those are the issues but there are no fears attached to the process,” he explained.

He however, could not be drawn to indicate the particular time he expected the bill to be brought on the floor for debate as he said it was solely the responsibility of the Minister of Justice to set the process in motion.

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Dangerous Dave
Guest

Those in DPP should not think that the bill is for MCP. it is for Malawi and future generations. Let us not be selfish as if we are going to live forever. If Muthalika is 79, then he should know that in less than 10 years he will be dead whether he likes it or not. If not dead he will be incapacitated. This is what nature is all about.

Mboba
Guest

The electoral bill is needed now and not tomorrow

Patrick Phiri
Guest

Don’t pay them allowances if they boycott. One by one they will come back.

Sectingo
Guest

I second don’t pay all that will boycott the session

Clarify
Guest

Think national and generational. Don’t be myopic. This piece of legislation is for national building. DPP always fears its own shadows. Where is the access to information bill? Peter is still sitting on it after being passed many months ago. What is he afraid of? He wants to keep looting the country together with his henchmen until 2019 so that no one gets the information easily.

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