Associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s (Unima) Chancellor College, Mwiza Nkhata, has pointed out some conflicting legal provisions, especially on the age at which one is allowed to register for voting.
Section 77 (2) of the Constitution states that a person shall qualify to be registered as a voter after attaining the age of 18.
However, the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA) under Section 15 states that every citizen of Malawi, who, on or before the polling day, shall have attained the age of 18 years shall be eligible to register as a voter in an election.
Nkhata said to correct the situation, there is need for Parliament to pass the Electoral Reforms Bills so that only eligible people are registered and vote in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He was speaking during a debate on the Electoral Reforms Bills organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust on Friday night in Mzuzu.
“Now, because the Constitution is the law above other laws, what it means is that the PPEA and LGEA [Local Government Elections Acts] contravene the Constitution,” said Nkhata.
Commissioner William Msiska from the Malawi Law Commission concurred with Nkhata, saying past elections have had problems and this is the time to correct such wrongs.
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 percent+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.