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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

What was wrong with electoral reforms?

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Every time a diplomat opens his or her mouth to speak on our internal affairs, as British High Commissioner, Holly Tett and Germany Ambassador Jürgen Borsch are doing in the lead story of this edition, it leaves a bitter after-taste in us.

It is the patriot in us that tells us that Malawi is an independent nation that at 54 years of age, she should be able to conduct her business free from the interference of other nations as we guard our sovereignty.

The only flaw in this argument is that Malawi and its leaders have not acted as an independent state driven to do anything in the best interest of its all 17 million Malawians.

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On the contrary the leaders in question have promoted narrow partisan interests meant only to perpetuate their hold on power and electoral reform bills that Parliament rejected in December last year is a classic example.

It is difficult to argue with Tett when she says: “UK recognises and values the independence of Parliament as an institution that makes laws. We regret however that, following our investment in the process, a full debate on the bills did not take place in the last parliamentary session we remain hopeful that the bills that were returned back to Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs will be reviewed and brought back for debate in parliament.”

It is equally difficult to tear apart Borsch’s words when he says the collapse of the bills was a missed opportunity because it was.

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He adds: “After the elections of 2014 the government requested development partners to financially support the reflection on lessons learnt and thereafter the elaboration of reform proposals for the next elections…Electoral reforms are always controversial and need a thorough discussion, I think it is a missed opportunity that this discussion did not take place in Parliament as expected and the bills were sent back without discussion.”

The reason why we are unable to argue against the two diplomats is that while they are diplomatic not to say it, the message is they do not understand how a nation can hold shambolic elections in 2014, ask them to help in reforms to correct it and then a ruling party connives with some opposition MPs to reject the same.

But we are not surprised. We have leaders who think about themselves and based on short term myopic vision.

Simply put, the DPP administration conspired against the people of Malawi to reject sensible electoral bills because it thought, they would demolish its perceived advantage based on warped tribal and regional thinking.

This has been the disease in Malawi and it is solely responsible for all our lack of progress in anything.

Any nation needs progress in any human endeavor. For Malawi it is not happening because those entrusted with power do not look at national interests but their own.

The electoral reform bills were a chance to clean up a bad electoral system for the progress of the nation but the chance went begging.

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