Parliament rejects Constitutional Ammendment Bill

By Morton Sibale – Mana.The National Assembly has rejected the Constitutional Ammendment Bill, which had provisions for a re-run in the case that no candidate in a presidential election ammases over 50 percent of the total vote.The Bill, which was moved by Chitipa West Parliamentarian, Kezzie Msukwa, who is also Chairperson for the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, sought to provide guidelines in the event that no candidate obtains a clear majority and there is a re-run.After the bill passed through all the required stages, Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara called on the members to vote to pass the bill. After the vote, 101 legislators voted for the bill, 71 voted against it, while 11 members were absent.However, according to Gotani Hara, the votes in support of the bill failed to reach a two-thirds majority threshold required for Parliament to effect a constitutional ammendment.Minister of Justice, Bright Msaka was not immediately available for an interview after the house adjourned.However, Msukwa, who moved the bill was quick to clarify that the rejection of the bill does not signify that the 50% plus 1 voting system has been shot down.”This act was only looking to assign dates for a re-run because the 50% plus 1 is a law that was already there. That’s why I have moved the house to sit on Friday to deliberate the consequences of this rejected bill,” Msukwa said.Msukwa further said that since all the other electoral reform bills hinged on the constitutional ammendment bill, parliament will clear up the situation to ensure that the laws are clear and alligned.Among others, the rejected bill sought to ammend Section 80 of the constitution and provide for the following provisions;i) that a run-off be conducted 30 days after announcement of initial elections results.ii) that the run-off be contested by the top two candidates in the initial election.The bill also sought to determine the dates for the fresh and the next general election, in addition to extending the tenure of office for the current cohort of members of parliament and local government councilors up to May 2025.Parliament however, passed the Electoral Commission Act and the Parliamentary and Presidential elections Act ammendment bills.Mana/ms/gjp

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