Despite Malawi Government announcing last week that it is ready with two bills that would see the harmonisation of electoral laws to enable the country hold tripartite elections next year, Cabinet is yet to approve and endorse the bills for tabling in the National Assembly.
This was disclosed on Saturday at a debate organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) to discuss how prepared the country is to holding the three elections in 2014.
This has since raised more concerns that tripartite elections might not be possible come next year.
During the debate, both assistant chief legislative counsel in the Ministry of Justice, Reyneck Matemba, and Attorney General Anthony Kamanga disclosed that although the bills were finalised, they are yet to be presented to a Cabinet Committee for approval and endorsement.
However, while admitting the challenges being faced to have the process completed, both Matemba and Kamanga expressed optimism that the process is still on track and that it will be through in time for the elections.
“The Electoral Commission (EC) earlier this year sent us drafting instructions on three acts that are supposed to be amended. We finalised the three bills and they will be presented to Cabinet on Monday,” said Matemba, who was one of the panellists during the debate.
The revelation is in sharp contrast to an announcement made by Leader of the House Henry Phoya last week that two bills on the elections are ready for tabling.
And one contributor to the debate Member of Parliament Chitipa East Kezzie Msukwa, who is also chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, said given the nature of the process of coming up with the bill, it was clear that the country is not ready to hold the three elections.
During the debate, two of the panellists Chris Chisoni, who is national coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice (CCJP), and Steve Duwa, publicity secretary for the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn), expressed concern with the pace the process is taking and doubted whether the laws will be amended by May next year, when the elections are supposed to be held.
However, electoral commissioner Emmanuel Chinkwita Phiri is on record as having said even without the laws harmonised, the tripartite elections will still take place since the Constitution was already amended to have the three elections at once.
He maintained his stand at the debate.