MP apologises for voting against 50%
Independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Mzimba North East, Olipa Muyaba, has apologised to constituents for voting to block the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill which proposed the 50 percent +1 electoral system of electing a president, MP and councillor.
Muyaba was among the 97 MPs who voted against the bill which, if passed into law, would see Malawi abandoning the First- Past-The-Post system of electing a president for 50 percent + 1, which various quarters say is more representative because the victorious president is elected by at least half of the number of registered voters.
The lawmaker, who won as an independent candidate during the 2014 Tripartite Elections, was on Sundaynsummoned to Ekwendeni by her subjects, who demanded to know why she voted no and subsequently told the media that it was her people who informed her choice.
During the meeting, some of the constituents made it clear that they saw an invisible political hand in Muyaba’s conduct, further warning her to refrain from being used by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
“I would like to tell people of my constituency that I owe them an apology for saying ‘no’ to the bill without consulting them. Sorry for that and I apologise,” Muyaba said.
She reiterated that she voted that way because she had no time to consult her constituents on the proposed Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills, adding that they came in a form that was different from what was initially circulated to the legislators.
“The way the bill came, ]it] appeared new to me in that it was totally different from what the Special Law Commission sensitised us to. Being an independent [MP], I thought I could respond the way I felt at that particular point in time, not knowing that my people wanted the bill discussed,” Muyaba added.
The constituents also gave Muyaba a seven-day ultimatum to write Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, informing him that she has withdrawn her vote.
Speaking separately, Special Constituency Taskforce Chairperson, Gerald Dube, said they summoned the legislator to remind her that she is obliged to safeguard the interests of the people who, he said, are her employers.
“We are getting worried because this is the second time she has voted contrary to the people’s expectations and wishes. The first time was during the debate on land bills. People in the constituency opposed them but she voted in support of them. So, we thought it is only proper to remind her of her duties,” he said.
Asked whether it was feasible for an MP to withdraw a vote, with regard to Parliament’s Standing Orders, Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba asked for a questionnaire which she was yet to respond to as we went to bed.
“I know the answer but send me an email. However, I am driving for the next one hour,” Kalemba said.
Some of the MPs who voted against the bills are facing pressure from their constituents, who accuse them of not consulting them.
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