Malawi Parliament has rejected yet another adulterated Bill on Electoral Reform, the Transitional Arrangement (Assumption of Offfice by the President and Vice-President Bill) with opposition accusing President Peter Mutharika led administration of “betrayal” to the wishes of Malawians expressed through recommendations of the Special Law Commission report of Electoral Reforms.
Government side also voted to shoot down its own proposition in the Presidential, Parliamentray and Local Government Elections (PPLGE) Bill which was tabled by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, having been approved by Cabinet..
Legislators, mostly on the government side, had put personal and political interest ahead of national interests giving citizens the raw deal.
Opposition leader and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazatus Chakwera said what government side members of Parliament (MPs) did in rejecting the pieces of legislation is “betral of the highest order.”
“They are sacrificing their own President and Minister of Justice. Here i s a Cabinet that says it is ready to present bills to Parliament and the same Cabinet rejects the bills,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government has “betrayed Malawians.”
In the vote of the Bill, the ‘no’ votes from government were 97 againsy ‘yes’ 65 from opposition on Transitional Arrangement Bill while 97 government side voted against the PPLGE Bill from proceeding to committee stage as 64 from the opposition voted ‘yes’ and 29 absentees.
The Transitional Arrangement Bill created a tranisition team comprising Chief Secretary to the Government, Secretary to Treasury, Commander of Malawi Defence Force, Inspector General of Police and not more than three persons appointed by the incumbent and president-elect.
The PPLGE Bill harmonised the two electoral legislations in line with the provision of a tripartite election in the Malawi Constitution and among other things propose 50 plus one percent system to determine the winning presidential candidate which government also extended to MPs and ward councillors.
However, Salima North-West MP Jessie Kabwila (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) observed that DPP government only brought the Bills to Parliament to hoodwink Malawians and avoid the protests which were being organised by Public Affairs Committee (PAC).
This now means the two Bills will have to be sent back to Ministry of Justice and Contitutional Affairs for redrafting before being tabled again in the House.
The Special Law Commission recommended the introduction of 50+1 percent system of electing the country’s President while maintaining First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system to consolidate acceptability and legitimacy of the elected Head of State.
In the report, the commission also proposes that Section 80 (2) of the Constitution should read: “ The President shall be elected by a majority of more than fifty percent [50 percent] of the valid votes cast through direct, universal and equal suffrage and, where such majority is not obtained by any presidential candidate in the first poll, a second poll shall be held within thirty  days after the declaration of the results in which the two  presidential candidates who obtained the highest and second highest number of valid votes cast in the first poll shall be the only candidates.”
The commission explained that it considered whether the FPTP system should be abandoned in favour of another system that would be more suitable for presidential elections as it was viewed that the FPTP system was no longer relevant for Malawi as experience had exposed its weakness in dealing with the challenge of regional parties, the representation of women in elected office, and the potential to produce winning candidates that do not have the support of the majority of the people who voted.
In the past five presidential elections since the adoption of multiparty democracy through the 1993 National Referendum, only in two elections the winner scooped total votes equal to more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
In the most recent elections in May 2014, President Peter Mutharika got 36.4 percent of the total votes while in 2009 Bingu wa Mutharika (deceased) had an unprecedented 66.17 percent coming from a meagre 35.97 percent in 2004.
In 1999, Bakili Muluzi amassed 52.34 percent from 47.15 percent in 1994.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :