and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has told members of Parliament (MPs) that government will inform the House when the Electoral Reforms Bills will be tabled.
Tembenu was responding to questions from the opposition on the status of tabling of the Bills.
He said: “I believe that today is a government business day. Let us discuss the government business first and at the time of our own choosing we will communicate.”
The opposition, however, were not convinced by the minister’s response.
Standing on a Point of Order, Kasungu Central MP Amon Nkhata (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), wondered why the minister had to “beat about the bush” on the matter when Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa told Parliament on Monday that the minister would respond to the query once he returned to the House. During the deliberations on Monday, Tembenu was reported to be attending a relative’s funeral.
He said: “The Leader of the House promised us that once [the minister] is here we will get an assurance that the bill is going to be tabled. Can the minister inform this House when this bill is coming?”
Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya said there was nothing he could have done to rule on the matter following Tembenu’s statement.
In an interview during break time, Nkhata said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is being elusive and taking the electorate for granted.
“The Minister of Justice [and Constitutional Affairs] was very elusive. We find his statement absurd and unfortunate, especially coming from the office that deals with constitutional matters,” he said.
However, Tembenu assured the House that government will stand by its promises and bring the Bills in the House when they conclude all consultations.
Said Tembenu: “Cabinet is still working on it and might finalise it by this week and probably present it soon.”
The Bill was brought in Parliament as a Private Members Bill Number 3 of 2016 by Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba (MCP).
Among other things, the Bill proposes a 50+1 electoral system to replace the current First-Past-the-Post system which allows the candidate with the most votes to be declared winner even with less than 50 percent of the vote. n