Malawi: HRDC Wants Malawi Parliament to Bring Back Electoral Reforms Bill

20 September 2019

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) wants Parliament to bring back Electoral Reforms Bill which was shot down in the House last year.

"We urge National Assembly to deliberate and pass the electoral reforms in their original form as proposed by the Law Commission as amatter of urgency," HRDC has said

In a petition the organisation delivered to Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani-Hara at Parliament Building in Lilongwe.

HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo presented the petition to the Speaker through Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator Richard Chimwendo Banda.

The Electoral Reform Bill, which was shot down in Parliament, sought to ensure that the president elected during polls represents the majority of Malawians and facilitate involvement of women in active politics by, among other things, ensuring that each district has a constituency where only female candidates compete for parliamentary positions, among other benefits.

Other issues raised in the HRDC petition include adoption of 50-plus-one system of electing a president and deal away with the current first-past-the-post electoral system.

The organisation said in the event of one candidate obtaining less that 50 percent of the votes cast, a second round of voting should be taking place involving the top two candidates.

Commenting on the demands in the petition, governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times: "I think they are simply trying to take advantage of the current sitting of Parliament and the large patronage of their demos to advance some of the key outstanding issues such as electoral reforms."

In its preliminary report, the Sadc Election Observation Mission (Seom) on the May 21 Tripartite Elections recommended that Malawi's electoral laws still need to be reformed. The mission's suggested areas of reform include appointment of MEC commissioners, period for voter registration and the role of the State broadcaster.

On the composition of MEC, the mission said while the commissioners are appointed by the President in consultation with leaders of the political parties represented in Parliament, "there is, however, need for the appointment process to be improved to enhance inclusivity, transparency and good governance".

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