Legal Committee to discuss Electoral Comission Bill

Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee says it will meet to review the Electoral Commission Act (Amendment) Bill to see if it can be re-tabled when Parliament meets next month for the Mid-Year Budget Review.

The committee’s  chairperson Maxwell Thyolera said in an interview yesterday his committee had already requested Parliament Secretariat for inclusion on the list of committees’ meetings which start next Tuesday.

Thyolera: We wrote a proposal

The Bill which, among others, seeks to provide for a selection panel for candidates for appointment as commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), was referred to the committee during the November meeting of Parliament.

The bone of contention was the change by government to the Special Law Commission’s proposals on electoral reforms that the Chief Secretary to Government should form part of the selection panel for the appointment of the commissioners.

Thyolera said: “We wrote a proposal to the secretariat to include us on the committees that will be meeting from next Tuesday, but we have not been given a nod yet on the actual date.”

He said his committee would analyse the Bill and also make reference to comments made by members of Parliament (MPs) regarding some amended areas in the Bill they thought the committee could clean up.

“We will have to use the Hansard [the official record of parliamentary deliberations] to get what members’ comments were apart from inviting relevant stakeholders such as MEC, the Law Commission, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Centre for Multiparty Democracy [CMD] to get their views on some of the provisions that are in the Bill,” said Thyolera.

Commenting on the issue, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) executive director Robert Phiri said they were following and assessing every development taking place regarding the Electoral Reforms Bills with interest.

He said: “We are interested to see what developments will be taking place in terms of the electoral reforms and indeed if that will happen still PAC will have to look at its own plans which we already alluded to after postponing the nationwide demonstrations.”

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