By Tione Andsen – MANA
Government has assured electoral stakeholders in the country that it is committed to implementing electoral reforms.
Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo made the remarks Thursday during the opening of a two day Electoral Reforms Review Conference organized by National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
He said for a long time, various electoral stakeholders have been calling for the electoral reforms after every election in the new multi-party democracy in country.
“Government supports the initiative taken by NICE that gaps within our electoral laws are corrected so that out electoral systems should be credible all the time,” Mvalo said.
The Minister admitted that there are several possible electoral reforms that need to be deliberated on and in order to come up with resolutions for consideration.
He said in 2017 there was a proposal of a transitional arrangement between an election and next government in order to ensure smooth transition of governments.
“There was a suggestion to the effect that the incumbent president has to leave office before the commencement of official campaign to avoid abuse of public resources. Presidential candidate should be on equal footing unlike what is happening with the current electoral law,” Mvalo explained.
He added that the report had recommended that a special electoral fund to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) should be set aside for smooth operation of the electoral body.
Mvalo said the reform should look into the issue of majority in which the Courts indicated that it should be 50 +1 and how to deal with a re-run in the event of having now winner in an election.
“There is suggestion of creating 28 seats meant for Lady Members of Parliament to raise their numbers in the august house. The change will largely depend on the implementation of the new electoral laws. Each district will have a permanent lady representation,” the Minister added.
MEC Chairperson Chifundo Kachale said the electoral reforms should take into account the operation of MEC and make sure the new laws should make it work efficiently.
He said the new law should clearly stipulate on how commissioner of MEC would be appointed in order to improve efficiency to the electoral body.
“MEC must strive to conduct credible and fair elections when discharging its functions in order to generate confidence to all key stakeholders. The electoral body should act independently without any influence within any branch of government,” Kachale pointed out.
The MEC Chair observed that legal reform is a political process where parliament make laws of the country are stakeholders in the whole process of the electoral reforms.
He said there was need to look at the voting process with the new emerging voting technologies in order to speed up the vote counting processes
Nice Public Trust Executive Director, Ollen Mwalubunju, said all electoral stakeholders are appealing to parliament to be more responsible to ensure that electoral reforms translate into legislations.
He said it was pleasing to note that the new government was keen on implementing electoral reforms and they need to demonstrate that they are keen to do them.