By Susan Kainja 3/12/2017
Malawi Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima has told Roman Catholic bishops that he is fully behind their endorsement of a mass protest against the DPP government organized by Public Affairs Committee.
The protest march slated for December 13 is aimed at forcing President Peter Mutharika and his DPP to bring before Parliament the Electoral Reforms Bill.
Despite being quiet on the political front due to his sidelining by some DPP bigwigs, Chilima remains an ardent member of the Catholic church.
Service leaders at St Patrick’s Church in Area 18 say the Vice President plans to hold solidarity prayers with the bishops in the morning of December 13 but won’t attend the protests march.
“He fully agrees with what his bishops are doing but has excused himself from attending the march due to political persecution he is currently facing. The DPP might use it against him at a later stage,” one member at the church confided.
Prominently, the bill seeks to change the format used to vote in a President from First Past the Post to 50+1 threshold, meaning if no one passes the 50 percent mark there will be a second round featuring the two top candidates.
Despite Mutharika’s promises to table the bill during the current Parliament sitting, Government continues dilly-dallying saying the bill is not ready.
When PAC presented a petition to Parliament last week to push for tabling of the bill, government on the other hand mobilized chiefs and other little-known civil society organizations to present their own petition calling for delay in tabling the bill.
The chiefs argue that Malawians were not involved in the putting up of the bill. Contrary to that, Malawi Law Commission carried out an extensive exercise to solicit views from all corners of the country and the outcome was that many Malawians agree to change the electoral laws especially 50+1.
PAC in agreement with all its members have however insisted that the nationwide protests will take place if government does not table the bills.