Reform Bill

Malawi president rejects vote reform bill

President Peter Mutharika of Malawi has refused to assent to the electoral reforms bill passed by parliament last February.

Presidential press officer Mgeme Kalilani told the press in Blantyre that the president had also rejected a parliamentary committee recomendation to fire heads of the Malawi Electoral Commission, MEC.

The president avers that the bill “does not meet the tests of constitutionality and lawfulness and that it infringes on the principle of separation of powers with various arms of the government.”

Though parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, PAC, had recommended the sacking of MEC chair Jane Ansah and her fellow commissioners, the president held that the report was short on whether the commissioners were given any particulars of incompetence or incapacity.

Mutharika last week dissolved his cabinetand transferred all ministerial powers, functions and responsibilities to the presidency, local media outfit The Nation newspaper reported.

A 13th March 2020 statement from the Chief Secretary to the government Lloyd Muhara, confirmed the new arrangement which comes in the run-up to the May 19 rerun of presidential polls that were annulled in February.

Political analysts believe the dissolution of the cabinet is a move to incorporate the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) alliance partner United Democratic Front (UDF).

The DPP UDF alliance announced in late February is seen as a move by Mutharika to consolidate his voter base ahead of a rerun in which his main challengers are his former VP Saulos Chilima and main opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera.

The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) charged all members of the dissolved cabinet to consult the Chief Secretary to the government for appropriate administrative arrangements, the statement added.

The UDF governed Malawi between 1994 and 2004, and has 10 parliamentary seats. The DPP has 61 while the main opposition Malawi Congress Party has 55. The UDF is led by Atupele Muluzi, who served in Mutharika’s government before last May’s presidential election.