The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) says it will next Tuesday march to Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe and petition President Peter Mutharika over the missing Electoral Reforms Bills on Parliament’s agenda.
The quasi-religious grouping, which comprises the leadership of the Catholic Church, Protestants and Muslim, said it will present another petition to Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya to implore him to prioritise the Electoral Reforms Bills when they are presented in Parliament for debate.
PAC made its resolutions after its emergency board meeting in Blantyre to map the way forward.
The grouping’s position comes against a background of leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera threatening a boycott of National Assembly proceedings if the proposed laws are not taken to Parliament.
Two civil society organisations—Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep)—are also lobbying members of Parliament to boycott.
In an interview after yesterday’s meeting, PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota said his grouping learnt with shock that the bills were not on the list of business to be transacted in Parliament.
He said: “We are of the opinion that issues of elections are actually at the heart of national life and tampering with issues of elections is actually tampering with the lives of people, and as PAC, we are concerned with how people are governed.”
Chingota said PAC is targeting the President because when Parliament last met in June, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu promised to take the Bills to Parliament.
He said if all fails, they will call a stakeholders’ meeting with delegates to the 5+1 All-inclusive Stakeholders’ Conference to map the way forward with a national march to demonstrate or take other alternatives.
Reacting to legislators’ calls for the bills to be brought to Parliament, Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, urged patience.
The Electoral Reforms Bills include an amendment of Section 80(2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act proposing 50+1 percent majority in presidential election and an amendment of Section 81 (3) of the Constitution for swearing-in of the President and Vice-President to be done after 30 days. n