By Alex Phiri 11/12/2017
If there is a political party that has ruled Malawi without any respect and regard for the owners of the land then Democratic Progressive Party fits well into that description.
Just when Malawians thought the mounting pressure from many stakeholders will force the DPP-led government into tabling the Electoral Reforms Bill (50+1) in Parliament, Mutharika and his friends are busy scheming behind closed doors and taking Malawians for a ride..
They are now ready to bring the bill to Parliament but with lots of twists and turns to it.
Mutharika and friends have punched into Malawi Law Commission recommendations their own provisions that do not make sense in any democratic dispensation, all this to avoid defeat at the 2019 polls.
Malawi Law Commission recommended that for one to be elected President they must amass 50+1 of the vote in either first or second round of polling. DPP on the other hand has added a provision that spreads this requirement to members of Parliament and ward councilors.
Their reasoning is that churches, donors, CSOs and the opposition will get scared and backtrack on pushing for the bill to be tabled and passed in Parliament during the current sitting.
This is coming only two days before mass protests organized by churches to push for the tabling and passing of the bills.
Mutharika’s tactic was already tried by his brother but it miserably failed. When Malawians were planning to go to the streets in July 2011, late Bingu wa Mutharika was busy planning a conference at State House where he said national issues were to be discussed.
This careless action by late Bingu and his aides angered Malawians and no wonder emotions were high when people took to the streets on July 20. Over 20 people were killed in violence that erupted in running battles between police and protesters.
Government loses nothing by bringing the original recommendations by Law Commission as a bill to Parliament. By adding clauses that are only aimed at defeating the whole process, Mutharika is shooting himself in the foot.He stands to lose more when people’s anger spills out.
By the way nowhere in the world do they elect MPs and councilors using 50+1 in addition to Presidents. Malawi will be the only country if it goes that route and sadly it is the world’s poorest country that cannot even fund own elections.
For sanity sake it would be wise for the DPP to listen to the cries of Malawians. Any attempt to add salt to the wound is at this time not the best way to take.