Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera yesterday emphasised the importance of Parliament debating and passing proposed electoral reforms in the forthcoming 2019 General Elections.
Chakwera, who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, expressed the sentiments during a political rally he addressed at Msalura Primary School ground in Salima.
He said allowing the National Assembly to debate and pass the proposed Electoral Reforms Bill would see the country avoiding and preventing eventual election rigging in the next election.
Said Chakwera: “Our trust is in God. Everything is possible if God is on our side. Nothing will stop us from claiming victory in 2019.”
He claimed that the recent Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that there should be a re-run in the Lilongwe City South East Constituency was proof that the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections were marred by irregularities.
In October last year, MCP threatened to call for “peaceful” civil disobedience if government failed to introduce a Bill to discuss all electoral reforms.
MCP also wanted MEC to implement the proposal of moving MEC headquarters to Lilongwe and that announcement of results during a national election should be made at constituency level.
Other key reforms MCP wanted discussed included the merit of shifting to a 50-plus-one system from the current first-past-the-post and the amendment of electoral laws.
In the electoral reform recommendations, stakeholders, among others, recommended the amendment of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and the Local Government Elections Act into a single Elections Act.
Further, the stakeholders recommended financing of political campaigns to be legislated to ensure transparency and accountability.
The reforms also proposed a law to allow better management of the transition from polling day to the inauguration of the President and Vice-President to ensure sufficient time for petitions to be resolved.
Previous elections have been marred by irregularities that prompted Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) to champion reforms.
During the rally, Chakwera also said MCP was the concrete solution to ridding the country of corruption and fraud.
Said Chakwera: “MCP is ready to rescue you from thieves and Cashgaters. In 2019, we are prepared to save you from a bunch that is wishing this nation bad.
“We are not turning back. We are determined to rescue this country from thieves who are ransacking it at the moment.”
Conspicuously missing at the rally was Felix Jumbe, Salima Central member of Parliament (MP) who was fired from the party some months ago on disciplinary grounds.
But in his remarks, Chakwera extended an olive branch to “those who left, but are raring to return to do so”.
He said: “We need to rebuild the party now and I wish to call upon those raring to return to do so now. This is their party. The door is open to anyone to join us.”
During the rally, about 73 members from various political parties, including the People’s Party (PP) and People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) announced their defection to MCP.