Malawians will be going to polls in general elections the third week of September starting from the 2025 polls following the passing of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.5 in Parliament on Tuesday.
The country has been holding parliamentary, presidential and local government elections the third week of May every five years.
But the Bill which was tabled by Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo to align the concurrent conduct of elections for presidential, parliamentary and local government and now the tenure of the current cohort of MPs has been extended by one year as the next tripartite elections will be held in 2025 instead of 2024.
Consideration for the shift the polling day from May to September came about because of dry and warm weather condition in summer.
Mvalo also tabled the Constitutional Amendment Bill which sought to extend the life span of the current Parliamentary sitting to six years for elections be held in 2025.
The amendment also proposed that the President and Vice President be sworn in after seven to 30 days from their election to address electoral disputes that may arise and to adequately prepare for the swearing in.
Being a constitutional amendment, the Bill required a two thirds majority vote of MPs present and during the vote, 161 MPs voted for the Bill, one voted against while 25 were absent.
The House also passed the Constitutional Amendments which according to Mvalo will also see, people who turn 18 by the voting day being allowed to register to vote.
Mvalo said this addresses challenges that were there in the past where the Constitution and PPEA were speaking different languages.
Previously, the Constitution was stipulating that one would only register for voting when they have reached 18 while the PPEA allowed people to register as long as they have evidence that they would be 18 by the voting day.
Mvalo also presented amendments to parliamentary and local government elections so that members of Parliament and ward councillors get elected by a simple majority (first-past-the-post) and not 50 percent plus one threshold used for electing a President and his vice.
The passed Bill also provides that Judicial Services Commission will be nominating candidates for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson who will be appointed by the President and the presidential election re-run will be held in the event that no candidate amasses outright 50 percent plus one majority in an elections.