…decision draws mixed reactions
The decision by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to postpone the December 13 protests is justified, an analyst says this is however after parliament shot down bills under the electoral reforms debate.
The quasi-religious grouping, just 24 hours before the protests, announced they had made a U-turn saying government had now prepared five of the six bills under the electoral reforms recommendations.
Initially, the proposition affected the presidency alone but the proposed voting system has been extended to voting for Members of Parliament and ward councilors.
News that the demos had been postponed drew mixed reactions on Facebook with some arguing it did not make sense for PAC to reach this decision based on a promise for government to take the bill to Parliament on Thursday.
However, the ruling party lawmakers on Thursday shoot down the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Amendments Bill.
This is because the protests were also meant to express anger on lack of independence for state owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, failure by government to show interest in cases of corruption that are stalling in courts as well as the ongoing electricity blackouts that are even taking 24 hours plus across Malawi.
Posting on Facebook, author and owner of Sync IT Solution Limited, questioned why PAC made the decision when the other ills continue in Malawi.
‘’So, what about the rest of the issues? Corruption, ESCOM etc? Know that your credibility as representatives of the people has today been terminally damaged. You cannot turn on and then switch off people’s hope, frustration, anger and the right to demonstrate like a tap. All because of some cursory evasive action by Govt. Really?” he wrote.
But political analyst Wonderful Mkhutche believes otherwise.
He told Malawi24 that PAC has shown it is ready to compromise if government is willing to listen.
‘’The general public was geared for the march minding the fact that it also covered other challenges that those of electricity. If the organization had gone ahead, the ruling party could have used it as an excuse of de-campaigning the organization that government compromised but it (PAC) still went on to lead the marches,” he said.
On the alteration made on the bill, the analyst says it is an unfortunate though a good starting point.
Talk on the electoral reforms rage on in Malawi with the 50+1 bill coming out top.
The new system, will see the winning president having to amass at least 50+1 percent of the national vote.
In the previous elections, Malawi had been using the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) or winner-takes-all system to elect presidents, Members of Parliament (MPs) and ward councillors.
In the run-off system, if no candidate reaches the required rate during the first poll, a run-off will have to be held in which two presidential candidates who obtained the highest and second highest number of valid votes cast should be the only candidates.
For this to be adopted, Parliament needs to amend Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections (PPE) Act to provide change of the electoral system to the 50+1 threshold.