With only three days before the scheduled PAC demonstrations, civil society organisations (CSOs) have thrown their weight behind the move, calling on Malawians to come en-masse to support the cause.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday, the message from the CSOs is that this is an opportunity for every citizen to demonstrate their patriotism and demand a transformative and responsive leadership that the country needs at the moment.
The CSOs represented by the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) and Youth and Society (YAS) called on Malawians to stand up and fight for their right to have a free, just and credible electoral system in the country.
CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo described the country as being in a crisis as it lacks transformative leadership.
He commended PAC for bringing in a number of governance issues in the theme for the demonstrations.
“The electoral process is not for a political party, but a tenet for democracy. We are pushing for it because we believe it will serve the interests of Malawians better. Let the leadership commit to Malawians by passing these Bills,” said Mtambo.
The CSOs also registered their disappointment in the manner the opposition has handled the issue in Parliament, saying it lacks real strategy and is devoid of any real sense of direction and sincerity.
“The boycott, which they staged, has come a bit late in our view. The moment they noted that the proposed electoral Bills were not part of the agenda for the current meeting; they were supposed to boycott there and then.
“It is being said elsewhere that the opposition is also not entirely comfortable with these Bills and their actions are rendering credence to these fears. We expect more from them and they should come out clearly how they intend to achieve this in the remaining days,” said Mtambo.
Meanwhile, Mtendere Election Support Network, a grouping of 17 CSOs registered in 2013, has also thrown its weight behind calls for government to urgently table the Electoral Reforms Bills.
In a statement signed by the network’s chairperson, Nandin Patel, secretary Shy Ali, publicity secretary Edward Mchaka and treasurer Maynard Nyirenda, they argue that the Bills are aimed at enhancing representation and legitimacy of elected officers.
They also argue that the electoral laws that will be enacted will ensure peaceful transitions and address “autonomy and independence of the Electoral Commission”, among others.