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Cabinet rebuffs Pac on reforms

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Cabinet Committee on Legal, Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs has declined to meet the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) over the proposed reforms of the Local Government Act as well as other electoral reforms which Pac is advocating.

On August 21, Pac wrote the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) requesting for an audience with members of the Cabinet committee on Thursday last week.

However, in a letter, which The Daily Times has seen, dated August 29 2017 signed by Marjorie Shema on behalf of the Chief Secretary to the Government, OPC says Pac has already engaged various stakeholders on the matter including Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera and Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa.

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“I wish therefore to advice you that the proposed meeting may not be necessary because there is nothing new that the board may discuss with the Cabinet Committee at this point in time. Furthermore, it is our view that the proposed meeting would be unprocedural as it would exert unnecessary pressure on the cabinet Committee to look at the reforms in an objective manner. In light of the foregoing, I would like to respectfully request you to put the proposed meeting on hold until the cabinet will have collectively decided on the proposed reforms,” reads part of the letter.

Pac Executive Director, Robert Phiri, confirmed receipt of the letter but could not comment further on it.

“I can confirm we received the letter last week,” he said.

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Pac has been agitating for the 50+1 voting system as well as removal of voting powers of Members of Parliament in councils arguing that the legislators do not form part of the decentralisation process and already have voting powers in the National Assembly, among other factors.

“The approval process requires that Cabinet Committee on Legal Affairs adopts the reforms before they go to Parliament, this is why we are targeting the committee,” Phiri said.

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