TWO BILLS WON’T STOP DEMOS—PAC
Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has said the decision by the government to table two out of the six Electoral Reforms Amendment Bills today will not stop the planned protests on December 13.
The protests have been endorsed by Catholic bishops, Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presybeterian and other leading faith groups.
Pac spokesperson, Father Peter Mulomole, told The Daily Times in an exclusive interview that the two bills will not move the influential grouping of religious leaders.
“The bills are six not two or three and they [the government] know that. It was a commitment [by the government] that the bills would be tabled in Parliament in this meeting as a package. So, I do not think Pac is going to move [into cancelling the protests],” he said.
Mulomole, however, said the Pac board may meet on the same “but as it stands, the committee will not move on the planned demonstrations until all the bills are tabled as a package”.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Esther Mcheka- Chilenje, on Tuesday announced that the Business Committee of Parliament, which comprises the Leader of Opposition in the House, Lazarus Chakwera, Leader of the House, Kondwani Nakhumwa, and the Speaker of the National Assembly, who chairs the committee, met and decided to table the Referendum Bill and the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill.
The agreement to table the two bills, with the remaining four to be tabled later, convinced the Malawi Congress Party to return to Parliament after they had walked out the previous day demanding that all the six bills be tabled.
The Referendum Bill is designed to provide for the conduct and holding of referenda in Malawi and other matters to do with holding a referendum.
The Electoral Commission Amendment Bill seeks to establish a Selection Panel with powers to asses and call for interviews for commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission before recommending to the President. This would potentially strip the President’s powers to appoint commissioners.
The four remaining bills include the most contentious one, The Constitution (Amendment) Bill whose highlights are the proposal to have each district as a single member constituency in which only women shall compete as candidates and wants the President to be elected by a majority of more than 50 percent of valid votes cast through direct, universal and equal suffrage…
This amendment will make invalid the First-Past-the-Post electoral system of electing a President.
The other bills are the Elections Management Fund Bill whose mandate will be to finance the management and administration of elections.
The other bi l l i s the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Bill. This bill seeks to make provision for the conduct of elections to the Office of the President, the National Assembly and council.
The final bill is the Assumption of Office of the President (Transitional Arrangements) Bill which wants to regulate transition from one administration to another following a general election.
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