The week has ended with Electoral Reforms Bill dominating headlines with government legislators opposing the piece of legislation that would see the country implementing the 50+1 electoral system of choosing the country’s president from the First-Past-the-Post system, news that has attracted editorial comments in major Malawians dailies on Friday.
“Malawians are the biggest losers,” screamed an editorial headline in the influential The Nation newspaper which pointed out that there was reluctance by the President Peter Mutharika administration to take to the National Assembly a set of bills under the banner of Electoral Reforms Bills.
The paper noted that following pressure from several stakeholders and fearing mass protests organised by Public Affairs Committee (PAC), opposition parties and civil society organisations, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government tabled the bills albeit adulterated.
The Malawi Law Commission proposed at least six bills in its report to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Among these bills were: 1. Amendment of Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (PPE) Act proposing 50 percent majority in presidential election; 2. Consolidation of PPE Act and Local Government Elections Act; 3. Amendment of Section 81 (3) of the Constitution for swearing in of president and vice-president to be done after 30 days; 4. The Assumption of Office of President Bill would provide for the establishment of a transition team before a president is sworn in; 5. Amendment to Section 62 of the Constitution where each district would provide a single constituency in which only women would contest as candidates for member of Parliament; 6. Elections Management Fund to ensure Malawi Electoral Commission is financially autonomous.
In its comment, The Nation said the wishes of Malawians as expressed through recommendations on the Special Law Commission Report of Electoral Reforms, are being “systematically discarded” by political machinations of the DPP.
The paper said with the Electoral Commission Act (Amendment) Bill referred to the Legal Affairs Committee and the Referendum Bill and yet another adulterated Transitional Arrangement (Assumption of Office by the President and Vice President) Bill rejected, the impression one gets is that the traits of ‘Executive arrogance’ have systematically been thrown to the Legislature.
“We dare say that is not smart. It is taking Malawians for granted,” the paper said, warning the citizens are watching the machinations.
The editorial stated that “Malawians are the biggest losers” having been given a “raw deal.” But, it said, posterity will be the best judge.
On the other hand, Malawi flagship newspaper Daily Times screamed with an editorial headline: ‘A nation betrayed and duped’.
The comment went to state that it was clear in the first place that Mutharika administration was afraid of Electoral Reforms Bills and “played all cards in the book of crooks “to derail the enactment of the legislation.
Now that the bill proposing 50 percent majority in presidential election has been blocked, the paper says the nation should reflect on why it has happened.
“First, what is pronounced in all this is betrayal. Secondly, what we see is crookedness on the party of the [DPP] government,” reads the comment in part.
It noted that Malawi as a nation has mastered the art of deception and has full of politicians – both in government and opposition – “who do not have integrity and move around with a price tag hanging on their heads.”
The paper said MPs from both sides of the House have let down the nation “greatly”.
“Those who decided to abstain and those who were absent are actually the people that posterity will blame for their acts of cowardice, selfishness and betrayal,” it said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :