The Public Affairs Committee gives government 7-day ultimatum


The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has given the government seven days to table Electoral and Local Government Act Reforms bills.

In two petitions delivered Thursday to President Peter Mutharika and Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, Pac clearly states that, should the government fail to table the bills by November 29, it will organise nationwide demonstrations.

Pac Chairperson, Reverend Felix Chingota, read a petition to Mutharika after a 30-minute march from Area 18 Roundabout to Parliament Building.


“Ensure that government tables the Electoral Reforms Bill[s], including the 50+1, during the current sitting of Parliament. Be warned that ignoring the 50+1 is a recipe for disaster as we approach the forthcoming 2019 tripartite elections.

“Ensure that government tables the Electoral and Local Government Act Reforms Bills by 29th November 2017. Should this not materialise, Pac will have no other option but [to] swiftly hold a peaceful march nationwide,” reads the petition.

The petition states that failure to table Electoral and Local Government Act Reforms bills by now clearly signals that the reforms are being delayed so that, when referred to relevant committees, they should not go back to the chamber.


The petition also says that Malawians will be kept waiting for the reforms and that, as alleged by some quarters, targeted MPs have to be paid money to defeat the bills.

Pac has also stated that if the bills are not tabled, the development will reflect badly on Mutharika’s administration.

“We therefore appeal to Your Excellency, as Head of State and Government, to have Electoral and Local Government Act Reforms bills tabled, debated and passed now rather than later. If this is not done, it may reflect badly on your administration,” reads the petition.

A petition to Msowoya has the same content and ultimatum but also focuses on the role of Parliament. It says the Speaker should ensure that the Business Committee prioritises the bills.

The petition also says, should the bills be sent to relevant par l iamen tary commi t tees , Msowoya should ensure that the committee deals with the cleaning up of the bills within the current sitting.

“Ensure that Parliament upholds the will of Malawians who were widely consulted on Electoral and Local Government Act reforms. Stifling them would be tantamount to suffocating constitutionalism and the collective will of Malawians who put leaders into their respective positions,” reads the petition.

The Pac leaders left Area 18 Roundabout at 9am. Although the numbers were not that impressive, their message in their 30-minute march was clear.

Lilongwe City Council Chief Executive Officer, Charles Makanga, received the petition to Mutharika on behalf of Chief Secretary to Government, Lloyd Muhara, while Legal Affairs Committee Chairperson, Maxwell Thyolera, received Msowoya’s petition.

Thyolera, who said the petition would be delivered to the Speaker, pledged that MPs would support all the bills.

“Once the bills are tabled in the House, we will prioritise them. All we want is that the Executive should table them,” Thyolera said.

On his part, Makanga said he would surrender the petition to the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The Electoral Reforms Bills and Local Government Act Reforms Bill have become contentious issues. The government had initially indicated that they would be tabled in the current sitting but their absence on Parliament’s agenda has raised concerns from Pac and some opposition Members of Parliament.

However, there are other civil society organisations operating under the banner Civil Society Platform of Electoral Reforms who are arguing that more consultations should be made on the bills.

On Wednesday, they also delivered a petition to Parliament. In the petition, they are saying government must conduct a public hearing on the issue, among other things.

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