Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Government should not play games on Electoral Reforms Bill


We cannot agree more with opposition Members of Parliament who, in Parliament, Tuesday grilled the government over its failure to table the bill on electoral reforms.

For starters, the legislators, and indeed most Malawians, expected the august House sitting in Lilongwe to table the Special Law Commission’s recommendation that Malawi should do away with the First-Past-The-Post system—which gives an unfair advantage to other regions of the country when electing presidents—and adopt the progressive 50+1 system.

The new system recommends that the winning president must amass at least 50+ percent threshold of the national vote. It is clear that the proposed electoral system threatens those in power now.


Parliament is critical in this matter because it will have to amend Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections (PPE) Act to change the current electoral system.

Just like the MPs, we are less than satisfied with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu’s response to Lilongwe North East lawmaker, Maxwell Thyoleras, question on the absence of the bill on the electoral reforms.

Looking at how the Executive played hide-and-seek while buying time on other bills such as the Access to Information, which was only passed this year after over a decade spread over three political regimes, there is every reason to be impatient with the manner in which the electoral bill is being treated.


The government’s response that the bill will not be tabled in this sitting because the commission only presented the report on April 20 does not help matters because it smacks of nothing but an excuse.

We are afraid that despite the minister promising that the Electoral Reforms’ Bill will be tabled in the November sitting there is no guarantee that the government will not come up with yet another excuse just to buy time.

Now this bill is not about partisan politics but it is in the interest of the entire nation as it is common knowledge that the electoral landscape has over the years not been level.

We have every reason to be suspicious over the delays on the electoral bill because it is clear that those in power have always perfected the art of shifting goalposts on matters they feel threatened them.

Reckless remarks from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s officials that the Central and Northern regions will never rule the country further heighten the suspicions.

However, we urge the opposition law makers to exercise caution and be responsible when raising their concerns to the government, otherwise threats of there will be trouble in the country are also sensitive. Two wrongs cannot make a right.

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