Ministry of Justice says government is keen on constitutional review and electoral law reforms to help solve several maladministration practices.
Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo said this on Thursday following calls by the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC), an advocacy arm of the Evangelical Association of Malawi, to speed up electoral law reforms.
He said: “I think if we can get it out of the way, at the February sitting of Parliament, we would be very happy. What remains now is for the amendments to go through the Cabinet Committee on Legal Affairs.”
EPJC chairperson Reverend Zacc Kawalala observed that governments and political parties lack political will, which serves as a hindrance in the implementation of the 2007 Special Law Commission Report on Constitutional Review and the 2017 Special Law Commission Report on Electoral Laws.
He noted that what is worse is that the public has condoned such political interests to reign supreme over public interests by remaining docile in the context of continued systematic political frustrations of such reforms.
Kawalala further noted that the momentum which the country witnessed prior to the 2020 elections towards the push for enactment, adoption and implementation of the electoral laws recommendations has gone down.
“This is evident across the political divide, civil society, faith community, and the public. Consequently, this has led the Executive and Parliament to be complacent in taking these reforms forward,” he said.
Kawalala said the continued executive’s dilly-dallying to table the four electoral law reform Bills is not only a betrayal to public trust but also a recipe for potential electoral conflicts and violence in future elections.
“This is mindful of the fact that some of the proposed electoral law reforms such as the Transitional Arrangement Bill have the potential to reduce the chances of occurrence of electoral conflicts,” he said.
The committee recommended that the Executive should speed up the process of tabling the four electoral reform Bills as presented by the National Task force on Electoral Law Reforms, and these Bills should be presented in the next sitting of Parliament.
Kawalala warned that if this does not materialise, the church will mobilise its masses to take further actions aimed at enforcing the tabling of the Bills.
But University of Malawi political analyst Mustapha Hussein in a telephone interview emphasized the need to ensure that electoral maladministration is dealt with sooner than later.
“We should not wait until there are issues with elections and then we wake up. So, the strength of that call is that it is a proactive approach as there are so many grey areas that need to be dealt with in the laws, including the period that is required for a President to be sworn in after elections. We have all seen in the past, presidents being sworn in while conflicts are not resolved,” he said.
Hussein noted that there are many areas that require to be refined to avoid confusions on issues to ensure free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections in the country.
On constitutional review, he observed that there was a review sometime back but there were some areas that needed attention.