Members agitate for election reforms


Members of Parliament (MPs), particularly from the opposition side, yesterday debated different laws relating to how elections are handled and resolved that the laws should be amended as soon as possible so that they become effective before the 2019 tripartite elections.

After the 2014 elections, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) persistently claimed that it had been robbed of victory apparently because there had been some inconsistencies in how votes had been tallied.

Different reports including those by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn), the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) pointed to the fact that the 2014 elections had problems which should be avoided in the future.


Currently the Law Commission is looking into some proposed legal reforms in the election laws, but MP for Lilongwe South, Peter Dimba, used the Private Members Day opportunity to move a motion for the immediate amendment of three election laws.

Dimba argued that amending the Electoral Commission Act, the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and the Local Government Elections Act would give effect to the proposed electoral reforms.

He said his motion was partly based on a report on wide consultations by Mec with major stakeholders on electoral reforms, the need for a free and fair electoral process and the fact that the 2014 elections were “chaotic”.


“The laws need to be amended so that, for instance, election results should be announced at constituency level before they go to the main tally centre. This will ensure fairness and credibility,” said Dimba in an interview after his motion had been adopted.

People’s Party (PP) MP for Nkhata Bay South East, Noah Chimpeni, supported the motion, saying Malawi will only change if it becomes serious with all kinds of reforms including electoral modifications.

“I am happy that government is undertaking reforms, but one serious area that we need to look at is election reforms. Mec has started its administrative reforms, but it is important to look at the legal reforms that were proposed,” Chimpeni said.

Many other lawmakers, including Alex Chitete of Mchinji North East supported the need for amending electoral laws as had been proposed by Dimba, saying the revisions would reduce or eradicate election rigging.

He said it is also important to look at other areas including the number of votes that should be ideal for someone to rule the country.

Chitete argued that it does not make sense to have a leader who accumulated even less than 40 percent of the total votes cast as this means the majority did not favour them.

“We need a leader who has the support of the majority, a popular leader as he will have more than 50 percent of the votes. Currently even someone with less than 40 percent can rule the country,” said Chitete.

Malawi is currently using the First-Past-the-Post system where a presidential candidate with a simple majority wins as long as they have more votes than their competitors.

Meanwhile, the adopting of Dimba’s motion means a bill or more will be brought to Parliament for deliberation in relation to the proposed areas that should be revised or added.

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