The proposed 50+1 provision of electing the country’s President has stirred debate with CCAP Blantyre Synod saying if passed, it will do more harm than good to Malawians.
To the contrary, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) synods of Nkhoma and Livingstonia agree that the Bill, set to be tackled in Parliament, is in the best interest of Malawians.
In a telephone interview yesterday, CCAP Blantyre Synod general secretary the Reverend Billy Gama said the law set to be passed following a Constitutional Court clarification on an earlier interpretation of “majority”, may bring economic repercussions.
While welcoming the idea to have the 50+1 law instead of first-past-the-post in electing the President, he contended that it would be a tall order for political parties to attain it in the presidential race.
Said Gama: “The 50+1 is a welcome idea because what has been happening is that when the President wins an election by, say 40 percent, it means that 60 percent is shared by the opposition and that becomes a challenge.
“However, it will not be easy to be achieved unless political parties decide to merge. The obvious reason is that it is going to be so costly and it will cripple the country because we will need K43 billion to run the fresh election.”
He also said 50+1 is a difficult agenda in Parliament because it is coming from the Judiciary; hence, putting parliamentarians in an awkward position.
But Nkhoma Synod general secretary the Reverend Vasco Kachipapa said the Bill, which was among a set of Electoral Reforms Bills Parliament shot down in December 2019, is one of the laws stakeholders, including the church, have been pushing for to ensure that the country’s President is ushered into office by a majority.
He hailed the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court—which nullified the presidential election in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections over what it called massive irregularities—for the determination he said is in the interest of the majority of Malawians.
Said Kachipapa: “We will be calling on our Christians to pray and fast so that justice should take its course. The fact that Parliament has been ordered [by the court], MPs have no choice. This is the fair way of running an election… We have no choice.”
In his comment, CCJP national coordinator Boniface Chibwana said he does not see any reason why legislators should shoot down a provision that will create best practices for the management of presidential elections.
He said: “Let members deliberate it soberly and have it passed. It brings a lot of advantages. Let parliamentarians rise above politics and see the good side of this law.”
Earlier, the Livingstonia Synod wrote Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara advising her on the importance of having the bill passed in the House. The synod argued that the law will create peace and unity in future elections.
The letter, co-signed by synod general secretary the Reverend Levi Nyondo and moderator the Reverend Douglas Chipofya, reads: “The ruling by the Constitutional Court has highlighted an issue of great importance and national interest that our President should be elected with support of the majority of Malawians.
“Resolving this issue effectively will be key to helping this nation moving beyond the present political impasse and to enjoy peaceful elections and greater nation’s unity in future.”
In its February 3 2020 judgement, the court recommended that Parliament should legislate laws to support the existing statutes that provide room for the President to be elected by the majority of voters.
Public Affairs Committee and Human Rights Defenders Coalition have also advocated for the passing of the 50+1 provision.