18 May 2017

Malawi: Opposition Says DPP Governing Malawi On 'Deceit and Trickery'

Photo: Brian Dell
(File photo).

Opposition legislators has accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of governing the country through 'trickery'.

Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba (MCP) was the first to accuse the government of cheating Malawians that they would bring electoral reforms Bills when they had no intention of doing so.

He asked: "Why should this government run the country through hide and seek and trickery?"

Dimba accused Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu of not bringing the electoral Bills before the House to be enacted in time ahead of 2019 Tripartite elections.

Tembenu said the Bills would "most likely" be tabled in the House in November this year.

He said government will bring to Parliament six electoral Bills, among them changing the proposed electoral system from a simple majority to 50-plus-one and that inauguration should be held after 30 days.

The Bills are Constitution (Amendment), Electoral Commission (Amendment), Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections, Assumption of the Office of President (Transitional Arrangement) and Referendum.

But Dimba said with Tembenu's lukewarm commitment to bringing to Parliament six electoral Bills "probably government was simply bluffing, fooling Malawians that he would bring the bill, and yet they knew, they would not bring the bill. "

He added: "Secondly, why should Malawians trust this government when it is running its affairs based on deceit and trickery. "

However, Tembenu reapt in defence of government, saying "there is every reason for Malawians to trust this government in as much as there is every reason to doubt the intentions of the [Dimba] for running away from this House when time has come for him to present a [private members] bill. "

He said : "If the bills are passed in November, it would be up to the Electoral Commission to see how it can adjust its programmes to take into account the new laws. "

Tembenu pushed the blame to the Law Commission for allegedly missing deadlines for completion of the electoral reform reviews after it commenced its works on 16th April, 2016.

" The expectation was that they would complete the work by 31st December, 2016. They couldn't do that, then, they said they would finish the work by 31st January, 2017, they failed to do that. Then we moved to February, they could not do it either. Then we moved on to 31st March, 2017, they did not meet that deadline. They were only able to complete the work on 20th April, 2017. This Parliament started meeting on 5th May, 2017. According to the laws that we are using, Section 135, paragraph (d), when the Law Commission has completed its work, it is mandated to report its findings and recommendations to the Minister for the time responsible for Justice who shall publish any such report and lay it before Parliament.

"When you go to Section 10 of the Law Commission Act, once that report has been published it is referred to the Cabinet. Cabinet is yet to meet on that and we cannot run away from that procedure because that's the procedure set out in the laws themselves. Then after that, government will publish it as a government bill," he explained.

During the debate on the matter, Dowa North East legislator Richard Chimwendo Banda (MCP) called Tembenu "a liar" and Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire (People's Party-PP) threatened "trouble" if the Bills were not tabled immediately.

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