Some political parties in the country have called for an urgent constitutional review, arguing that the current Constitution does not augur well with democratic principles and political fair play.
This comes hot on the heels of the May 20 Tripartite Elections, which were marred by controversy, resulting into delay in announcing the results.
In an interview with The Nation on Thursday, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila blamed the country’s ‘weak’ Constitution for the massive irregularities that characterised the tripartite elections.
“We have a President coming out of massive [electoral] irregularities. Even if the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) acknowledged the existence of such irregularities, the law unfairly forced it to declare a winner who was, in fact, not the one,” said Kabwila.
Her party and the United Democratic Front (UDF) were among those irked by the results MEC released.
At first, MEC announced that there were massive irregularities, which needed recounting, but only to turn back and claim that the elections were free, fair and credible.
“There is need to extend time for MEC to deal with irregularities. How can it announce a winner when it claims that the elections were riddled with irregularities? If the law gave enough time, I am sure the results could have been different,” said Kabwila.
Another issue the MCP spokesperson cited is the requirement to have a candidate endorsed by over 50 percent of the voters.
Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Peter Mutharika won with 36 percent of the votes and Kabwila observed that the majority of Malawians rejected him.
Kabwila, therefore, wondered how a person could lead the people that have rejected him.
In a separate interview, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga concurred with Kabwila, adding that there should be clarity on the appointment of MEC commissioners and the establishment of a tribunal to look into electoral complaints.
A constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongolo, who is lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, agreed on the need to have the Constitution reviewed “considering the problems Malawi has been facing”.
“But there is little to change in the Constitution because most of the concerns the parties have raised are to do to with the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections (PPE) Act and Local Government Elections (LGE) Act,” said Kanyongolo.
He, however, said some of the concerns were already suggested by the Law Commission and that what remained was for Parliament to debate on them.
“For example, the 50 +1 percent was already suggested by the Law Commission in 2007. What remains is for the Cabinet to discuss and then ask the Ministry of Justice to formulate a bill and take it to Parliament for debate. Consequently, the Executive can take the bill direct to Parliament without going through the Law Commission,” said the law lecturer.
Asked where reforms the Law Commission suggested are, Attorney General Anthony Kamanga referred the matter to Solicitor General Janet Banda.
Banda said the Law Commissioner is the right person to respond on the matter.
The Nation failed to talk the Law Commissioner on the issue.