Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has cautioned the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) against acting in a manner that will be perceived as suppressing implementation of proposed electoral reforms ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The warning comes after the electoral body hinted that it would be difficult to put the reforms into operation if Parliament does not enact the electoral Bills by the end of this year.
On Tuesday, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu was elusive on government’s commitment to bring to Parliament the six electoral Bills for debate, saying that may be done by November and not during the current meeting of Parliament.
But reacting to government’s declaration and MEC’s position, Mesn said the electoral body should avoid putting itself under pressure to fail to implement the reforms.
In an interview, Mesn chairperson Steve Duwa said MEC should be prepared to put into service the reforms once enacted by Parliament.
He said: “I don’t think considering the energy and efforts that the nation has put into the electoral reforms agenda, we can come to a point that once the reforms are not enacted they cannot be implemented.
“MEC should be prepared to implement what comes from Parliament unless there is a provision that you can enact a law and then suspend it to a later date which I am not aware.”
On Tuesday, the House nearly degenerated into chaos when legislators from both government and opposition sides failed to hold their tempers and conclude the matter amicably.
But in an interview, Tembenu said the failure to table the six Bills was a result of failure by the Special Law Commission to submit a report on the review of the electoral reforms which was presented to Parliament yesterday.
The electoral reforms process started in 2014 by a National Task Force jointly chaired by MEC and Mesn whose findings and recommendations were submitted to the Special Law Commission in January 2016 for scrutiny. n