Electoral reforms bills proposes run-off elections

A voter captured casting her vote

Bills proposing electoral reforms will be presented during Parliament’s November 2022 sitting and are expected to be published in the Gazette this September in order to satisfy the requirements of presentation and tabling of bills before the National Assembly.

Among other things, the bills are proposing the holding of a run-off election.

”Further, the bill is providing for the holding of second election in the event that the first presidential election does not produce candidate that satisfied the fifty percent plus one vote threshold as set by the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi; filling of vacancies created by the death or withdrawal of nomination of a running mate before the holding of a presidential election and prescribing the period for the swearing in of a person who has been elected to be President or appointed to be First Vice-President or Second Vice-President. The Bill also contains other provisions that are aimed at improving the efficiency of management of elections," reads the statement.

A statement signed by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chief Elections Officer Andrew Mpesi indicated the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs assured the Commission the bills were adopted by Cabinet and referred to the Ministry for finalization, presentation and tabling before the house.

The development follows a meeting on Monday, 12th September held between MEC and the Minister which was organized to appraise the electoral body on the progress made on the bills.

According to the statement, once published in the Gazette, the National Task Force will hold a national stakeholders’ meeting to unpack all changes being proposed through the Bills.

The National Task Force came up with consolidated proposed areas of reform which were then submitted to the Justice Ministry in the following draft bills: Constitution (Amendment), Electoral Commission (Amendment)  and Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections.

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MEC Chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale

The Constitution (Amendment) bill aims at prescribing the period for holding by-elections, providing for the minimum and maximum number of members of the electoral body and changing of the name of the Electoral Commission to Malawi Electoral Commission.

An amendment to the Electoral Commission Bill will provide for minimum educational qualifications for persons to be appointed as members of MEC and empower it to devise other means of voting.  

Perhaps the contentious one would be the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill which among others is intended to come up with a new and comprehensive legal framework for the regulation of all polls in Malawi.

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Some of the Commission's members of staff

The Bill has harmonised and consolidated the provisions in the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and the Local Government Elections Act into one piece of legislation to improve accessibility and consistency of the legal framework governing the conduct of all elections in Malawi

Apart from law review, the Commission has implored on government the need for early funding starting from the 2022/23 financial year in order to commence preparations for the 2025 elections.