PAC to restrategise on electoral reforms

Public Affairs Committee (PAC) says it will re-strategise to have the Electoral Reforms Bill, which was shot in Parliament last year, re-tabled for passing.

PAC executive secretary Robert Phiri was reacting to a call by British High Commissioner Holly Tett for political leaders to embrace the reforms as one way of ending electoral disputes that have rocked the country since 1994.

Phiri: We’ll apply a new strategy

The Electoral Reforms Bill, which among other things seeks to change the electoral system from First-Past-the-Post to the 50+1 system for electing a president, was shot down in Parliament last year mainly by governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentarians.

Tett said in an interview with The Nation that apart from dialoguing on the current political impasse, leaders should embrace electoral reforms that will be instrumental in the management of the 2024 polls.

She said: “The elections system has really forced Malawi into a crisis. Malawi is a young democracy and what is important is that institutions should agree on what needs to change in order to move forward.

Tett: Malawi is a young democracy

“It is difficult to debate on what electoral system is best for Malawians. The UK won’t make a decision on what could be the best electoral system in Malawi. But stakeholders should discuss on the electoral system to be followed beyond 2024.”

But in a telephone interview on Sunday, Phiri hinted that the quasi-religious body will apply a new strategy, including lobbying members of Parliament (MPs) to embrace the bill which also which Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) should announce results after resolving all queries.sets a timeframe within

He said: “The dialogue we are holding now are not focusing only on current case issues. We are prioritising the underlying issues. And the major issues we are prioritising are the electoral reforms and constitutional review. We have the view that if we effect the reforms, we will be dealing with these underlying issues.”

Phiri added that PAC will also engage citizens at grass roots level to take part in the process by engaging their representatives in the House.

He said: “If leaders can prioritise on these, we can construction of the two stadiums is an individual. How could he be doing that banking on taxpayers’ money? The one who promised

“PP cannot condone this. We will come out strongly and oppose this because everybody knows it is the President [Peter Mutharika] who promised and these are private-owned institutions.”

Chidanti-Malunga cautioned that government should live to the budget, reminding it that it promised to embark on a number of developments using previous budgets which have either stalled or not taken off at all.

But Mwanamveka defended funding of the stadia, saying that the football fraternity has a lot of supporters who need to benefit from national resources.

On allocating resources to projects which stalled, the minister argued that the projects referred to are long-term and as such they could not be implemented within one financial year.

He said: “There are projects that take a long time and those that take a short time. Mombera [University] is one of the projects that cannot be completed in one financial year.”

After the cluster committee meetings, the House will reconvene for responses by the opposition party spokespersons on finance, thereafter from the chairperson of the Budget Committee, to be followed by reports by chairpersons of cluster

alleviate some of these challenges. We learnt a lesson at the time when we were advocating. This time we will ensure that we lobby at all important levels. Funds permitting, we will prioritise lobbying at district level to include people at the lower level.”

Meanwhile, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima are challenging the May 21 2019 results, saying they were fraudulent.

Chancellor College political scientist Mustafa Hussein and Institute for Policy Interaction executive director Rafiq Hajat said in separate interviews that engaging citizens and MPs is the best strategy towards having the bill passed in light of the current political atmosphere.

Hajat said: “The only way to ensure that reforms are taken on board is to ensure that all parties have accepted reforms. MCP members were seen as the only party pushing for the passing of the bill, but they were defeated by the ruling party.

“Now the situation has changed. With the current demonstrations, it is quite obvious that the situation may force government to soften up on reforms. But we should not only consider electoral reforms, but also constitutional reforms which were proposed in 2007 at a constitutional conference.”

In his opinion, Hussein said lobbying should be extended to the grass roots level because as voters, they have influence hence the need to make them aware of the importance of the proposed law.

“Citizens have an important role, but emphasis should be put on MPs so that they should be in the forefront because it is their responsibility to pass laws,” he said.

The First-Past-the-Post system has been faulted for putting in power a president who does not have the mandate of the majority of the voters as a candidate gets elected only with a small proportion of popular vote.

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