With pressure mounting from all quarters for government to table Electoral Reforms Bills, government is this week set to table two of the six Bills the Malawi Law Commission recommended.
However, the Bill proposing an amendment of the electoral system, especially in the presidential race, to adopt 50+1 instead of the present first-past-the-post and three others are not among the two.
In an interview last evening, Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said the two Bills to be put to the Business Committee by tomorrow are Electoral Commission and Referendum.
He said: “The government underestimated the amount of work that would go into making the Bills ready for Parliament. But two have now gone through the Cabinet plenary and will be taken to the Business Committee.”
Nankhumwa said a bill could not be tabled without following processes such as Cabinet committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and then main Cabinet.
The Law Commission recommended the following Bills collectively called Electoral Reforms Bills: Constitution (Amendment), Electoral Commission (Amendment), Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) and Local Government Elections Act, Assumption of the Office of President (Transitional Arrangement) and Referendum.
The most contentious of the Bills relate to the amendment of Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the PPE Act to provide for a change of the electoral system from a simple majority to a majority of more than 50 percent in the presidential race.
The Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill as proposed by the Special Law Commission recommended the enactment of the Elections Management Fund to ensure Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is financially autonomous.
It also proposed changes in the appointment of the MEC chairperson as well as composition of the commissioners.
The Referendum Bill, on the other hand, aims to introduce legislation on how to conduct a referendum as one does not exist currently.
The Assumption of the Office of President (Transitional Arrangement) proposes amendment to the Constitution to allow that swearing in of President and Vice-President be done after 30 days not within 30 days as prescribed in Section 81 (3) of the Constitution. n