Civil Society Organizations have called on members of the Malawi parliament to boycott parliament because of government’s failure to table the Electoral Reforms Bills in the next sitting of Parliament, saying all opposition MPs including Leader of Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, will be regarded pro-government if they show up in Parliament.
Among the bills is the proposal to amend Section 80(2) of the Malawi Constitution and Section 96(5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act to set a requirement that a presidential candidate should win more than 50% of the votes to be declared a winner, failure of which would see the two leading candidates square off against each other in a re-run.
“The absence of the bills on the initial list of bills to be tabled in Parliament is simply a clear sign that the reforms are not a priority to the government” said Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) in a statement.
The CSOs say they are not convinced with the excuse given by Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa that the bills could not be taken to parliament because Cabinet has not finalized reviewing them.
However, the CSOs claimed government’s excuse is intended to delay the execution of reforms in order to give the DPP regime a leeway in the 2019 elections. The activists have alleged that the bills “threaten” the ruling party’s existence.
“Looking at how the current government has behaved in the past over laws that seem to threaten their existence, we suspect that this is yet another calculated move by those in power to delay the electoral reform process.
“We have every reason to be suspicious because it is clear that DPP has not been in favour of this bill right from the start and is clearly seeking ways to further delay it” reads part of the statement signed by CEDEP’s Gift Trapence and CHRR’s Timothy Mtambo, branding the delay a “betrayal of the highest order”.
The CSOs have thus far called upon the opposition members of Parliament boycott parliamentary deliberations until that time when the electoral reform bills are included on the parliamentary agenda.
“We call upon the opposition and all patriotic members of Parliament not to start any deliberations until the electoral reform bills have been included on the parliamentary agenda, otherwise we will conclude that they are together with the government in support of these compromised laws so that they can use them to their favour if they get to power” charged the activists.
There is also another bill that proposes to amend Section 62 of the Constitute for each district to reserve a seat for Women aspirants for parliament.