The Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee says it will introduce new bills in Parliament for electoral reforms, including amendment of the Constitution when the House meets for the 2020/21 National Budget.
The House needs the new bills to decide the date of the fresh presidential election and give direction on run-offs.
Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Kezzie Msukwa in an interview on Wednesday said the committee is still discussing how to approach the issues surrounding electoral reforms, adding that new bills on constitutional amendment are necessary.
He said: “We will take new bills to Parliament. We know that last time the President rejected the bills because of lack of attachment to the Constitution, so this time we will go by people’s opinion. It’s a must that we bring a Constitutional Amendment Bill for the fresh election to take place.”
Msukwa further said as a committee, they will meet today to see how they will approach the issue, whether the bills will be brought into the House by government or as private members bills.
Meanwhile, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College law professor Garton Kamchedzera has
against amending the Constitution given the “antagonistic nature” of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which commands the majority in the 193-seat House. warned the committee
He said: “I think the committee should avoid a constitutional amendment now. They know the antagonistic scheme of the DPP about the fresh election. Such an amendment should wait until after the election.
“It is still possible to change the law without changing the Constitution at this stage, by amending the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act,” he said.
Kamchedzera added that re-passing the Bills that President Peter Mutharika refused to sign and having him commit that he will assent to them immediately would be a good first step.
“The moral, political, and legal basis of that n
lost the case in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal,” he said.would be that the President
In February, three Bills were presented in Parliament, namely the Private Members Bill (PMB) number one of 2020, Constitutional (Amendment), PMB 3, Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA) and the PMB 2 Electoral Commission Act (Amendment) Bills.
Unfortunately, the Constitutional Amendment Bill was shot down which made the two bills incomplete as they were inherently making references to Section 80A of the Constitution which is apparently not there.
The insertion of 80A in the Constitution was supposed to give effect to certain orders as directed in the judgement of the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court to allow the holding of fresh elections.
Currently, the Constitution does not have a clause for fresh presidential elections, with Section 80 only stating that elections of the president and members of Parliament should take place concurrently.
Parliament decided to waive amending the Constitution to consider provisions of the court. Instead, they chose to amend Parliamentary Acts, so that they meet the deadline as provided by the Constitutional Court.