Malawi Government presents report on review of electoral laws

glassA Report on the review of the electoral laws has been presented before Parliament which among others proposes several amendments to the country’s Constitution and has been submitted to Cabinet for approval and will later be introduced as Government Bills.

Presenting the report on Wednesday Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu said this followed a call for electoral reforms from various stakeholders and consultations which took place at regional and national levels after the 2014 Tripartite General Elections.

A Special Law Commission which was tasked with the job from April 2016 to April 2017 presented the final report to the Ministry of Justice on 26 April this year.

According to Tembenu some of the proposed amendments are on the need to cast the net wider on qualifications of the Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission to look beyond those serving as High Court Judges by considering even those no longer in service.

He also outlined a proposal on the introduction of a selection panel to nominate MEC Commissioners unlike the current process where they are chosen by political parties.

A 51 plus requirement has been recommended for a presidential candidate to be declared winner failing which a re-run of the elections is strongly suggested and that the president has to be sworn in 30 days after the polls to settle any disputes which may have arisen.

The Justice Minister stated that the reforms are also advocating for a Transition Arrangement Bill to oversee smooth transfer of power between the outgoing and incoming presidents.

Another major highlight in the report is on the proposed Presidential Parliamentary and Local Government Act to be one piece of legislation with the aim of making it user friendly, most extensive and comprehensive.

He explained that following the publication of the Report it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval with or without modifications and will later be introduced as Government Bills in the August House in the November sitting.

Tembenu dismissed assertions that government is dilly dallying on the proposed reforms.

“Government isn’t dragging its feet on the matter. In fact government has been a very transparent and a willing player,” he assured.

He mentioned National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE), Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) as some of the players involved in the process.mbc