Opposition takes govt to task on Electoral Reforms bill


Opposition members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday took government to task for not including the Electoral Reforms Bill in the upcoming events on the Order Paper, saying government lied to the nation that it would tackle the Bill in the current sitting.

Standing on a Point of Order, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Chief Whip Lobin Lowe wondered why there was no mention of the Electoral Reforms Bill on the Order Paper even on the upcoming events despite government promising that the Bill would be tabled in the current sitting.

Wondered why the reforms bill was not included: Lowe

“There is no Electoral Reforms Bill on the order paper or even in the upcoming events in the order papers. Why is this so?” he said.

In response, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya said from the communication he had from the Business Committee of Parliament, government is expected to bring the Bill together with others later.

“Government said they will meet and discuss it. So, government will inform us. But still more can the Leader of the House talk on this?” he said.

In his response, Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa concurred with the Speaker, saying the house just started meeting and it was too early to start losing hope. He said the members need to have patience and wait for the minister responsible (Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu) who was not in the House as he was attending a relative’s funeral.

“Much as I am not obliged to divulge what business takes place at Cabinet meetings, the Minister of Justice is not in the house and it will be premature to comment more than what you have said Mr. Speaker Sir. Let’s practise patience and then this issue can be discussed later,” he said.

The response by Nankhumwa did not go down well with the opposition benches where members stood to say government was just playing tactics to rig the forthcoming 2019 elections.

Kasungu South East MP Khumbize Kandodo (MCP) said: “These are just delaying tactics and it shows that government wants to rig elections in 2019.”

Dedza North West MP Alekeni Menyani (MCP) wondered why the Bill has not appeared on notices and said their action is adding to the lies they have been feeding Malawians for long.

“Government must not hold us to ransom. We have had enough of these lies. For how long are we going to hold our patience?” he said.

Among other things, the Electoral Reforms Bills proposes a 50+1 electoral system. Currently, Malawi uses the First-Past-the-Post system where whoever has the majority votes wins, even with below 50 percent of the vote. n

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