Three Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bills that were completely rejected by governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators and its allies in Parliament are dead and will need another whole process of reviving them, The Daily Times understands.
Some stakeholders, including opposition Malawi Congress Party, have been hoping that the bills might return to Parliament when the lawmakers meet again next month for the mid-year budget review session.
But we understand that it might be only the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill which may see the light of the day any time soon as it is now up to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament to present a report on the bill which may spur its return.
However, the Assumption of Office of the President (Transitional Arrangements), the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections and the Constitutional Amendment bills are dead, unless someone revives them.
When we followed up with Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, on what is left of the rejected bills, he stressed that, as far as the government is concerned, the bills are dead.
“They [the bills] are dead. It will be up to the [Malawi] Electoral Commission to revive them if they want since they are the client. Otherwise, on our part, the bills have been discarded,” he said.
Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee, Maxwell Thyolera, also indicated that the committee has no say on the bills that were rejected before they reached Committee Stage after their tabling.
According to Thyolera, it is only the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill which his committee will scrutinise, and then present a report on the same to Parliament.
“We have written [Parliament] Secretariat on the same and we will be meeting soon to look into the bill. Our hope is that we can do that as soon as possible so that the report is ready for the coming mid-year budget review meeting,” Thyolera said.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn)—which co-chaired the National Taskforce on Electoral Reforms—has said it will seek advice from its partners on the way forward.
Mesn Chairperson, Steven Duwa, said in an interview yesterday that the network would be reconvening in the next few days to discuss and decide on the bills.
“We have partners like constitutional lawyers from whom we will seek advice on the bills which are now dead. We need to see how we go about it; how to resuscitate them if need be,” Duwa said.
The Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections and the Constitutional Amendment bills contained some seemingly contentious elements including the 50 percent +1 provision for all elected officials which aimed at replacing the current First-Past-the-Post.
The Assumption of Office of the President (Transitional Arrangements) Bill sought to extend to 15 days the period after which one can be sworn in as president after being declared winner in an election, among others.
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