Dec 15, 2017 Last Updated 8:35 AM, Dec 15, 2017
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The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has postponed the December 13 demonstrations to a later date.

Primarily, the protests were meant to push for the tabling of the electoral reform bills during the current sitting of parliament.

By Monday, five of the six bills had been brought to parliament.

The electoral reform bills include a proposal for the introduction of the 50+1 system, which would require a presidential candidate to secure more than 50% of the total votes cast in an election, in order to be declared winner.

The committee has however justified its decision to postpone the demonstrations.

The announcement was made during a press briefing held in Lilongwe on Tuesday.

This development comes amid mixed views by the public and civil society organisations on the planned protests.

Formed in 1992 during the Malawi’s political transition from one party to multi party system of government, the Public Affairs Committee remains a key civil society organisation in the field of human right, mediation, advocacy, HIV/AIDS, Gender Based Violence, religious co-existence, electoral processes and peace and security.

The founders are Malawi Law Society, Malawi Chamber of Commerce, CCAP Blantyre Synod, CCAP Livingstonia Synod, CCAP General Synod, Diocese of Lake Malawi of Anglican Church, Diocese of Southern Malawi of Anglican Church, Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Malawi Council of Churches and Muslim Association of Malawi.

The Malawi government continues to come under pressure to have the Electoral Reform bills tabled in the current sitting of parliament.

Malawians and the Civil Society have been pushing for the bill to be discussed and passed into law for it to be applied in the 2019 General Elections.

Analysis by Christy Gomani

Parliamentarians and voters were looking forward to the current sitting of parliament as the beginning of a new chapter in the electoral system.

There were high expectations that the bill would find its way in.

Since discussions about the bill issue started in 2006, it has been observed that successive ruling parties are reluctant to have the bills tabled.

One of the recommendations in the proposed bills popularly is the 50+1 system.

This would require a winning Presidential candidate to amass over fifty percent of the votes cast, to be declared winner.

This is instead of the current system in which the winner of an election is determined by who has the most votes, regardless of whether they are below or over 50%.

Different stakeholders are opposing the current system, saying it does not guarantee that a candidate assumes the office of the president with majority votes.

Critics believe that successive governments do not support the bills, particularly the 50+1 proposal, because they fear that they would not be able to achieve the required numbers.

Just recently, the Public Affairs Committee issued a statement to push for government to follow through with its promise and have the bills tabled.

A statement was issued indicating that parliament will not be able to discuss the bill during this sitting.

In reaction, PAC is organising nationwide peaceful demonstrations to be held on Wednesday next week.

In a democratic and dramatic response, some chiefs were paraded on the state broadcaster, speaking against the demonstrations, claiming there is need for further consultation if the bill is to be taken before the legislators.

Some of these Chiefs however, are said to have been in previous discussion forums some years back, when consultations about the bill were being made.

This was revealed during Capital FM’s Sunday Round Table program over the weekend.

The Executive Director of Youth and Society Charles Kajoloweka, thinks these chiefs are acting under influence from the government.

Unandi Banda of the National Elections Systems Trust shares the sentiments and thinks the government is failing to walk its talk.

The Leader of the opposition and President of the Malawi Congress Party Lazarus Chakwera feels this is the only suitable time to bring the bill to parliament.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, however through its spokesperson Francis Kasaira, maintains that there is need for further consultations before the bills are brought to parliament.

It is high time that stakeholders reached an agreement, bearing in mind that there are only seventeen months left before the next elections are to be held in the country.

If Malawians are fail to prepare, then it is obvious they are preparing to fail.

The opposition Malawi Congress Party together with family members On Sunday held a memorial ceremony for the late former President Hastings Kamuzu Banda in Lilongwe.

Banda who was Malawi’s first President and also leader of the MCP died November 25 1997.

Over the years, Malawians would join the Kamuzu family in reflecting on the fallen leader’s life through national memorial ceremonies.

On Sunday, the memorial saw MCP officials led by leader Lazarus Chakwera and family members, including former State Hostess Mama Cecilia Kadzamira, laying wreaths at the Kamuzu Mausoleum at City Centre in Lilongwe.

Some of the notable faces that graced the memorial include speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, Former speaker Lewis Chimango, and Banda’s nephew and former Finance Minister Ken Kandodo.

No government representatives were in attendance.

RBF Program Extended

The Results Based Financing for Maternal and Neonatal Health (RBF4MNH) program has been extended to April next year.

This has been disclosed by representatives of the program.

Initially, the five year program was supposed to wind up in December 2017 after it started in 2012.

Speaking to Capital FM, the Programs Deputy Director reveals money amounting to MK1.7 billion has been set aside for various activities before the program phases out.

Reagan Kaluluma disclosed MK1 billion will be channeled towards infrastructure development in all the four impact districts.

"The remaining MK700 million will go towards conditional cash transfer to benefiting expectant women as well cash bonuses to health workers," Kaluluma explained.

The program is being implemented in 33 health facilities in Ntcheu, Dedza, Mchinji and Balaka.

It is aimed at contributing to the reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths in the impact districts.

This is so through provision of incentives inform of cash bonus to staff as well conditional cash transfer to expectant women in a bid to increase hospital deliveries.

Further, the program also procures medical equipment besides infrastructure development to benefiting health facilities in a bid to improve quality health care services.

Malawi government under Ministry of Health is implementing the maternal health program with financial support from Germany and Norway governments.

Malawi’s Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe says plans are under way for Capital Hill to start processing payments of ex-Malawi Young Pioneer (MYP) members.

Gondwe said this Tuesday in Parliament while responding to a query made by Member of Parliament for Lilongwe-Msozi South Dzoole Mwale as to what the Ministry was doing to ensure that ex-MYP Members were paid their dues.

“So far 492 members have given us their documentations and we are in the process of paying their gratuity as well as their pension.

What we have done is to calculate their pensions as they would have been in 1994 and then use inflation to increase them (pensions) according to what we do with other civil servants,” he said.

He further disclosed that expenses will be made by the National Audit Office in accordance with the Public Audit Act and only be approved to members who posses valid documentations.

“We have decided that ex-MYP members will receive their terminal benefits if they were in service on 2nd May 1994 as explained in the Appeal Act and if they have valid documentation and letters of appointment to prove that they were employed in the organization,” Gondwe said.

So far, 18 ex-Malawi Young Pioneers have received their terminal benefits.

However, there are over a thousand ex-members who have claimed for their pensions but currently 492 have met the required conditions.

Who Were The MYP Officers?

The Malawi Young Pioneers were the paramilitary wing of the Malawi Congress Party. Their Commander in Chief was President Hastings Kamuzu Banda. 

They originally were supposed to function as a national youth service program with a development agenda.

However over time, they strayed away from this agenda and became an intricate network of espionage and terror.

The Young Pioneers were a major instrument for the operationalisation of Dr Banda's one party state dictatorship and domestic terrorism.

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