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Parliament resuscitates electoral reforms debate


The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Friday said it would engage Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs officials to know their position on electoral reforms that have not been implemented despite the Malawi Law Commission (MLC) proposing a number of changes in 2017.

The development follows an engagement which committee members had with MLC officials at Parliament Building in Lilongwe Friday.

Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Chairperson Peter Dimba said, after some of the commission’s recommendations were brought to Parliament, there was a need to understand the status of the remaining ones.

“We still have some recommended laws that are yet to be presented to Parliament. We know that some of the proposals from the commission are progressive while others are controversial, like the need to have district women members of Parliament. So we need to find out the position of the government on them,” he said.

During the meeting, MLC officials faced resistance on issues such as the need to have a special panel when deciding the composition of the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and the proposal to allow any Malawian citizen to contest in parliamentary and Local Government elections.

Currently, the law allows the parties with 10 percent representation of legislators in Parliament to appoint three Mec commissioners.

MLC Director of Law Reforms Mike Chinoko said the onus was on Parliament to discuss the proposals and, where need be, pass them into law.

“Our mandate has been fulfilled. We are not saying that, if we are approached to look at these issues again, we will not do so. We are always willing to do so. This far, we haven’t gotten that request,” he said.

Other proposals to be considered include the opening up of the Mec chairperson position to non-judges, the extension of the tenure of commissioners to five years and the proposal that the electoral body should be having seven commissioners.

Before the June 23 2020 presidential election, Parliament had a tough time amending some electoral laws after the Constitutional Court pin-pointed some of the laws that needed to be implemented, including the requirement that a presidential candidate has to amass 50+1 percent of votes in an election.

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