Parliament has passed the controversial political parties bill with amendments on the handouts that politicians give the electorate during the campaign period in Malawi.
The amendments are that electorates are supposed to vote for candidates vying for political positions without reflecting on how much handouts they give.
Another crucial matter tackled in the bill is the political party funding, in which political parties will be mandated to declare their source of funding and the amount of funds.
Speaking to Capital FM, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs Maxwell Thyolera says the bill promotes transparency and accountability in political parties.
On his part, Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu is looking forward to the implementation of the bill as it will promote issue based electoral campaign.
The Political Parties Bill seeks to repeal the Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Act (Cap. 2:07) (the “Act”), and replace it with a new law which will address the challenges being faced when regulating the registration, financing and functioning of political parties.
The Bill is divided into eight Parts.
Part I makes provision for preliminary matters, such as short title, commencement, and interpretation of certain words and terms used in the Bill while Part II outlines general principles upon which the establishment and operation of political parties in Malawi shall be founded.
Part III establishes the office of the Registrar of Political Parties (the “Registrar”), which shall be a public office. The Part also makes provision for the appointment of the Registrar and other officers in the Office of the Registrar, and for the independence of the Registrar when exercising his powers, functions and duties under the Act, as well as the tenure of office of the Registrar.
The bill also according to Part IV deals with registration of political parties, and contains provisions relating to, among others, grounds for which the Registrar may refuse to register a political party. The Part also contains provisions for deregistration of a political party, as well as review, by the High Court, of deregistration of a political party.
Part V makes provision for financing of political parties. The Part contains provisions relating to entitlement to State funding by political parties, uses of State funding, suspension of State funding, refunds by political parties which cease to qualify for State funding, closure of books and records of account upon dissolution of Parliament.
The Bill also provides for, among others, private funding and receipt of donations by political parties, the requirement to open a separate bank account for private funding, registration and declaration of assets, and members’ access to financial records of their political party.