By Elijah Phompho
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked Government to engage the citizenry and all key stakeholders before considering in shifting MPs and Councillors elections to be held in 2025 as the constitutional mandate of meeting the tripartite elections requirement.
The development follows the Constitution Court’s ruling which nullified former President Peter Mutharika’s re-election in the 2019 Presidential elections and was replaced by President Dr Lazarus Chakwera in a fresh presidential election on 3rd June this year and his five-year constitutional mandate ends till 2025.
However, both the MPs and councillors’ constitution mandate expires in 2024 with their elections scheduled the same year creating a Constitutional crisis, which stipulates for a tripartite elections in every five years.
The Constitutional Court, through its February ruling, further directed Parliament to come up with electoral amendments bills aimed at guiding on when the country shall hold the next elections.
Speaking in an interview, Billy Banda of Malawi Watch said it would be ideal for government to engage the citizenry either thorough a Constitution forum or referendum before tabling such electoral amendments bills in Parliament.
“If the MPs are to stay in office for longer than their five-years term, it would require the consent of the electorate,” he said. “It would require to convene either a Constitutional conference or referendum before tabling such amendments in Parliament since its about changing the Constitution.”
Banda further said any constitutional amendments should not be rushed through Parliament, saying the ruling MCP should not take advantage of its ruling status and take advantage of DPP MPs since they are no longer in government to pass such bills.
Doing shall tantamount to ripping the Republican Constitution, he said.
Social commentator, Caesar Kondowe also agreed with Banda’s opinion and suggested that the country should just hold tripartite elections in 2024 to avoid confusion.
On his part, legal expert John Gift Mwakhwawa said it will be up to Parliament to come up with laws for the country to hold parliamentary and local councils in 2024 separate from presidential elections in 2025 or for the country to have tripartite elections in 2025.
However, a political expert Rafik Hajat said extending MPs tenure would deny development opportunity for the to electorate, whose MPs are not delivering.
“If the MPs were to amend the Constitution to extend there tenure, they should also reinstate a recall provision so that the MPs who would not deliver should be voted out.
There was no immediate response from government.