Civil society organisations (CSOs) led by Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) have pledged to continue pushing government to table the Electoral Reforms and Political Parties bills in Parliament.
The CSOs held a meeting in Mangochi on Saturday where they banged heads over the missing of the bills on order papers of the current Parliament meeting, contrary to Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu’s promise that the bills would be tabled this month.
Mesn chairperson Steven Duwa asked the 16 CSOs present at the meeting to chart the way forward on how they would lobby government to bring the bills to Parliament.
“Our expectation was that the current sitting of Parliament would table the Electoral Reforms Bills. But they are not on the Order Paper,” he said.
The CSOs also expressed worry that some quarters are only focusing on the 50+1 recommendations when there are other equally important recommendations in the package of the bills.
There are 32 recommendations in the Electoral Reform Bills. Our position as CSOs is that we are in agreement with all the recommendations and we are not isolating one against another,” Duwa clarified.
Prior to the meeting, Mesn took journalists on a tour of six districts to do a simple survey on what people know about the reforms. The survey revealed that most people are not aware of the reforms.
A woman called Laina Mtuluka, 28, from Malindima Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Sitola, Machinga District, said she had never heard about the reforms.
“I would request these organisations to engage us in these issues before the next elections in 2019,” she said. n