Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is engaging some donor agencies to overtake the Law Commission and smuggle into Parliament a secretly prepared bill proposing electoral reforms in the country. Nyasa Times can reveal.
The bill is set for presentation in Parliament on Thursday by an MCP Member of Parliament for Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba as a private members motion.
Officials from National Democratic Institute (NDI) confirmed Dimba asked for funding for him to present the private members motion.
The motion seeks to force the government change the electoral laws before the 2019 general election.
Among other things, the new laws will make a candidate win the presidency only after getting over 50 per cent of the votes cast.
In the 2014 polls, Mutharika got a mere 36 per cent of the vote.
NDI officials said they rejected Dimba’s request and referred him to Malawi Economic Justice Network.
Dimba confirmed having approached NDI for funding on the motion.
Officials from parliament said what Dimba did was irregular as all funding requests come from parliament not individual MPs.
According to MCP sources, party president Lazarous Chakwera fears that he cannot win elections in Malawi in the current set up because his party cannot manage to get support from the south, the north and the eastern regions of Malawi hence need for reforms to change the legal winning formula.
The three regions are where the MCP unleashed untold atrocities on Malawians during it’s 31 years regime under the brutal dictatorship of Dr Banda.
For the past 25 years the MCP has been reduced to a central region party failing to convince Malawians from the other regions to vote for it.
In October this year, the Law Commission Chairperson; Gertrude Hiwa told donors and other stakeholder under the Malawi Electoral Cycle Support Project that it would not be possible for it to complete the review process before end of this year because they still have a lot of work to do on the bill.
Hiwa said the Commission needed to discharge its duties with professionalism and unwavering adherence to basic ethical standards of independence, responsibility, transparency and accountability without pressure from politicians.
The Commission proposed March 2017 as the deadline for the review. This development irked Chakwera who is desperate for the reforms.
Steve Duwa of the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) and members of its board are said to be part of the plot to bulldoze the bill in the House.
Duwa has been exchanging emails with MESN board members copied to Chakwera and Dimba on underground efforts by MCP and some civil society organisation to source funding for the drafting of the MCP electoral reforms bill to replace the one prepared by the Law Commission.
In one such emails dated December 11, Duwa called for an emergency board meeting to discuss funding of the MCP electoral reforms bill.
“I am writing in connection with the email I sent out yesterday on the requested from Hon P. Dimba asking for MESN to support financially the drafting of a private members bill on electoral reforms”, wrote Steven Duwa.
Duwa said although the project under which the funding was to be tapped ended, the DFID was willing to fund the secret project outside the project period.
“As indicated, the bill is due for presentation this coming Thursday. Funds are from DFID through NDI under the project which unfortunately we already closed on 30th November but they are ready to give a no cost extension for purpose of this bill and other related activities’’, added Duwa.
Duwa assured his board members and MCP leader that all is well about the scheme.
‘‘I write therefore to invite you to the emergency board meeting on Tuesday afternoon in Lilongwe. Venue to be communicated later. All logistics will be handled by NDI,” Duwa said.
Duwa’s email is also copied to Timothy Mtambo of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation-CHRR, MacBain Mkandawire of Yoneco, Emma Kaliya of NGO-GCN, a Mr Lewis Msiyadungu and CCAP Nkhoma Synod secretariat, among others.
Surprisingly, while DFID is willing to give a ‘no cost extension’ for this MCP driven bill as shown in Duwa’s email, the Law Commission’s request for similar work on the reforms was rejected by the same donors.
Although the MCP plans to present the bill in Parliament on Thursday, work on the review of the country’s electoral laws by the Malawi Law Commission is still in progress and the commission is expected to come up with a report at least March next year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :