The government has made changes to some sections of the Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bills, with some Members of Parliament (MPs) expressing surprise with the changes.
One of the notable changes in the Presidential Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill is made to Section 94. Contrary to the recommendations of the Malawi Law Commission, the issue of 50+1 electoral system has been extended to MPs and councillors .
Section 94 (5) of the Bill clearly states who is included in the issue of 50 percent +1.
“Subject to this Act, in any election, a candidate for election to the office of (a) President, (b) Member of the National Assembly; or (c) councillor, who obtains the majority of more than 50 percent (50%) of the valid votes cast at the poll shall be declared by the Commission to have been duly elected,” read the section.
It adds: “Where the majority specified in subsection (5) is not obtained by any candidate in the first poll, a second poll shall be held within thirty (30) days after the declaration of the results in which the two candidates who obtained the highest and second highest number of valid votes cast in the first poll shall be the only candidates.”
The report by The Malawi Law Commission states that the 50+1 will only apply to the office of the president. The report states that MPs, women members of the National Assembly and a councillor shall be elected after getting the greatest number of valid votes cast
Another notable change is in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill. The Bill proposes that Section 64 of the Constitution should be amended to re-introduce the issue of recalling Members of Parliament.
“…64 (1) Every member of the National assembly shall be liable to be recalled by his or her constituency in accordance with this section,” reads the section.
The section has stated grounds for recalling the MP. One of them is on the ground of physical and mental capacity as certified by a medical practitioner, rendering the member incapable of performing functions of his or her office.
“(b) Misconduct or misbehavior of the member likely to bring hatred, ridicule contempt or disrepute to the office of the member or (c) loss of confidence in the member by his or her constituency [sic],” read other grounds.
It states that the recall shall be initiated by a petition in writing setting out grounds, and signed by at least two thirds of the registered voters of the constituency. The bill says the petition shall be addressed to the Speaker of Parliament.
“On receipt of a petition, in accordance with Subsection (3), the Speaker shall, within 14 days, require the Electoral Commission to conduct a public inquiry into the matters alleged in the petition,” it reads.
Section 64 was once in the Constitution but was repealed.
At the beginning of yesterday’s sitting, MP for Rumphi East, Kamlepo Kalua, expressed concern over the changes made to the bill.
“The Bill proposed by the [Malawi] Law Commission is not the one brought before us,” Kalua said.
However, Speaker Richard Msowoya, said the bills would always change at different stages.
“The bill always change. The way they will come out of this House will be different from the way they came in,” Msowoya said.
Meanwhile, the Business Committee of Parliament has agreed that Thursday will be dedicated to Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills.
Richard Msowoya also told the MPs after a business committee meeting on Monday that the MPs would also meet whole day on Friday for the same purpose.
Government is also expected to table Referendum Bill and Assumption of the Office of the President (Transitional Arrangements) Bill on Wednesday.
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