Law Commission proposes scrapping electoral system

The Special Law Commission on the Review of Electoral Laws has proposed the scrapping off of the current electoral system which allows candidates to win the presidency by a simple majority.

The commission, which started a two-day multi-stakeholder conference in Lilongwe, also settled for a degree from an accredited university as the minimum academic qualification for future presidents.

Patel: We need a solution

The meeting is discussing a number of recommendations following a year-long investigation.

But the burning issues include a re-examination of the first past the post (FPTP) system, which arguably entrenches regionalism and allows leaders without national mandate to get to the presidency.

The commission, chaired by Justice Anthony Kamanga, has dialed up calls to replace the existing system with a two-round method, recently trialled in Zambia, which incorporates a re-run when the winner gets fewer than half of the votes cast.

Under the suggested system, the winner has to scoop more than 50 percent of the votes to get to Kamuzu Palace.

Political scientist Nandini Patel said the questions over the FPTP system are historic and her commission needs them to be solved.

According to Patel, the current system will only apply to parliamentary elections.

Patel said: “In a situation where no presidential candidate secures the threshold, the recommendation is that there should be a run-off or double ballot where the top two candidates contest in the second round and the one who secures more votes is declared winner.”

Public Affairs Committee (PAC) spokesperson Father Peter Mulomole described the proposal as timely and overdue.

“The present system has failed to give us leaders with national legitimacy and the consequences are there for us to see. We need to try something else,” he said.

However, President Peter Mutharika’s special adviser on domestic policy Hetherwick Ntaba described the proposal as unrealistic and wasteful..

“There is no way we can attain the legitimacy people are talking about. Let us talk about the costs. In reality, we are already struggling to conduct by-elections,” he said.

Mutharika won the presidency with just 36.4 percent in May 2014.

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