United Democratic Front (UDF) leader in parliament Lillian Patel has said the country is facing a political crisis as the lawmakers on Thursday rejected a bill that would have meant a president could only be re-elected after securing at least 50 percent of votes cast, dismissing a landmark order by the Constitution Court.
Patel in her contributions to the Electoral Reforms Bill in Parliament, said the political crisis the parliamentarians have an obligation placed upon them by the people who to fix the problems.
She said UDF party is committed to its principles and values which included respect for the rule of law, pointing out that the 50+ 1 law is already in the constitution.
“The UDF will always respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. The constitution of Malawi carries the aspirations of the people we represent here,” said Patel.
“It will be an act of betrayal if we come here and behave contrary to the wishes of our people. This country is divided along ethic and regional lines and this division need political solution,” Patel added.
In its historic ruling, earlier this month the Constitutional Court overturned last year’s election of President Peter Mutharika and also ordered that a candidate should be chosen by more than 50% of the ballots cast.
Under the current first-past-the-post electoral system for choosing a president Mutharika won the election with 38.5% of the votes cast, a narrow win against his closest opponent Lazarus Chakwera.
Just 109 parliamentarians of the 193-House voted in favour of the bill, failing to reach the two-thirds majority of 128 required to amend the constitution.
Patel persuaded the legislators to ensure an amendment to pave way for a runoff in case no candidate achieves just above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid another poll.
Under the 50+1 electoral system, the triumphant contender is decided on the basis of getting a majority 50 percent plus one of the votes to win.
“It will help to make sure that the president is supported by the majority of the voters. It will bring peace and stability in this country” she said.
Patel said the country need to move on and focus on development.
UDF leader in the House said neighbouring Zambia’s successfully adopted and implemented 50-plus-one electoral system and said the Zambians have offered Malawi a big lesson to also “adopt the same” because the system has a major advantage in the context of where the voting pattern tends to be in dispute.
“Our neighbours in Zambia have embraced the system and it is working perfectly well. If we take the path of putting spanners on this process we risk facing catastrophic results,” said Patel.
She said UDF does not want to be remembered by the future generations as a party which used its numbers in the National Assembly to suppress the will of the people of Malawi hence supporting Electoral Reforms Bill.
Previously, Zambia, just like Malawi, had been using the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) or winner-takes-all system to elect presidents, members of Parliament (MPs) and ward councillors.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :