Government has said it will introduce four Electoral Reforms Bills today which will aid in deciding dates of the fresh presidential election.
But Leader of Opposition in Parliament Lobin Lowe has urged the National Assembly to prioritise setting the election date before discussing the National Budget, further cautioning the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-administration to keep its word on the electoral reforms bills as “it turned down its own Electoral Reforms Bills in 2017”.
Announcing the Bills before the House adjourned on Monday, Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa said all four Bills to be tabled are to do with Constitutional amendment.
He said: “We are more than ready to table the Bills, in as far as the fresh election is concerned, we are ready and we will present four Bills tomorrow—thus Bill number one, Amendment to Section 67 and 147 of the Constitution; Bill number two, Amendment to Section 75 of the Constitution; Bill number three Amendment to Section 80; and the last one is the Amendment to Section 81 of the Constitution.”
He said he was optimistic that the Bills will be discussed tomorrow and be passed to enable the country to conduct fresh election.
Section 67 of the Constitution tackles dissolution of the National Assembly while Section 147 is on the composition of local government authorities. On the other hand, Section 75 is on the Electoral Commission and Section 80 deals with the election of the President and First Vice-President while Section 81 talks about the Oath of Office.
Misunderstandings and chaos characterised parliamentary business on Monday afternoon as opposition members stood their ground that they wanted to discuss the fresh presidential election date first than any other business.
The House, which started at 2pm, had its business dragged by almost an hour when the two sides did not seem to agree on the proceedings of the House in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and the setting of the fresh election date.
This led to the suspension of the House for the Business Committee to meet and discuss the way forward and later the House was adjourned to this afternoon.
In her communication to the House, Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani Hara, announced that government 2020was ready with Electoral Reforms Bills which will determine the election date and that the House was to debate the bills and possibly pass them tomorrow.
Standing on a point of order, People’s Party leader in the House, John Chikalimba, said it was good for the House to set the pace and set a date for the forthcoming election as people are eagerly waiting for the date to vote.
The Speaker also announced that three independent MPs who were sitting on the government side have been allocated seats on the opposition side. They are Alexander Chilikumtima of Ntcheu Bwanje South, Isaac Kaneka, of Blantyre West and Ntcheu North East legislator Arthur Enoch Chipungu.