Members of Parliament (MPs) from the government side on Thursday blocked the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Amendments Bill.
The bill which proposes the election of the president, councillors and MPs using the 50+1 percent system was rejected when a motion was put to the House to allow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu read it for the second time.
Legislators on the government side supported by some opposition People’s Party (PP) MPs voted against second reading while most opposition MPs voted yes to the motion. At the end the motion was defeated by 97 to 62 votes.
This means the bill could not be debated for it to eventually be passed hence it will be sent back to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for redrafting.
The Assumption of Office of President (Transitional Arrangements) Bill which says a president should be sworn in 30 days after being elected was also blocked following a motion for second reading.
The blocking of the bills angered opposition MPs who suggested that government tabled the bills – which together with four others are collectively called electoral reforms bills – to stop Public Affairs
Committee (PAC) from holding nationwide demonstrations over delay to take the bills to Parliament.
Salima North West MP Jessie Kabwila noted that government only took the bills to Parliament with the aim of using its numerical advantage to block them.
Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire [People’s Party] wondered why government MPs were not supporting bills presented by their own minister.
“My understanding is that when a minister brings a bill, his backbenchers will thoroughly support it. But the way things have happened today is very interesting; in fact, suspicious,” he said.