Malawi: Expert Says Nothing Wrong With Speaker Giving Progress Report to Court

28 March 2020

A governance expert, accountability and political analyst fro University of Malawi's Chancellor College, Henry Chingaipe has said there is nothing wrong with the Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara giving a progress report to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

Chingaipe: Speaker's reporting to the Constitutional Court is good parliamentary administration

The Speaker wrote the court through the Office of the Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal that it received communication from President Peter Mutharika that he had rejected all the four electoral Bills.

On February 3, the ConCourt made specific orders to Parliament to use its legislative powers to enact legislation for the electoral commission and stakeholders to abide by the Constitution in the conduct of presidential election in the country within a period of 21 days from the date of the judgement.

According to Chingaipe, what Madam Speaker did in informing the ConCourt is what is expected in parliamentary administration within the and division of functions' scheme of 'separation of powers'

"The Speaker's reporting to the Constitutional Court is good parliamentary administration," Chingaipe said in post on his Facebook account.

"Parliament is informing another branch of government about progress on orders that were made on the basis of separation of powers and division of functions.

"The reporting is administrative. It does not amount to the Speaker suing the President. By the way, when Parliament passed the Bills, the Speaker similarly reported to the Constitutional Court," he said.

Chingaipe said Parliament will have to reconsider the Bills and the reasons the President has given for refusing to sign them off, saying that 21 days must elapse before the House can be called for this purpose as stipulated in the Constitution.

Last month, three Bills were presented in Parliament: The Private Members Bill (PMB) Number One of 2020, Constitution (Amendment), PBM 3, Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA) and the PBM 2 Electoral Commission Act (Amendment) Bills.

The Bills were presented in the House by Lilongwe City South West MP Nancy Tembo and Nkhata Bay West legislator Chrispin Mphande as Private Members Bill (PMB) Number 5 of 2020 and PMB Number 4 of 2020, respectively.

The proposed amendments requested a more than 50 percent majority to secure a second term -- a major sticking point for Mutharika, who was declared winner with just 35.8 percent of the vote.

Chancellor College law professor Garton Kamchedzera said the fresh election is not dependent on the coming into law of the Bills and that requirement for at least 50 percent + 1 of the votes is also not affected.

Mutharika has filed an appeal against the court's annulment of the results and refused to fire members of Malawi Electoral Commission, as recommended by parliament.

Another Chancellor College legal expert Edge Kanyongolo said the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal will be the only hope "address appropriate orders" for the preparations of the fresh presidential election following the rejection of the Bills by the President.

Malawi's Supreme Court is expected to rule on Mutharika's appeal in April.

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