The Political Parties Bill that has been formulated to change the way political groupings in the country operate has been welcomed as a “good idea” in ensuring that intra-party democracy thrive in political parties, which would help strengthen the country’s democracy and good governance.
The piece of legislation if passed into law will among other things outlaw handouts, deregister political parties that do not win in elections or hold conventions, impose fines on people that belong to more than one political party and also impose fines on political parties that do not declare donations.
The Nation newspaper on Monday in its editorial comment backed the proposed bill.
“Political scene needs regulation,” the newspaper said in the comment title and encouraged all stakeholders in the political arena to ensure that once passes into law, the Act should be embraces by all and implemented from the piece of legislation.
Among others, the Bill proposes that there be a Registrar of Political Parties whose responsibility will include regulating, monitoring and investigating political parties to ensure compliance with the Act.
According to the Bill the registrar—whose tenure will be three years—will also be responsible for ensuring the publication of audited annual accounts of political parties.
The Bill proposes that for a political party to be registered, it needs to consist of not less than 100 persons in each of the country’s districts who are eligible to vote and that the district commissioner should confirm their particulars and their eligibility to vote.
“The party can be de-registered if its registration was obtained by fraud or mistake,” reads the Bill.
The Bill further indicates that the registrar can deregister a political party that has not held a convention for a period of at least five consecutive years from the date of its registration or the date the party held its last convention. The Bill also says a party can be deregistered:
The proposed law also calls for political parties to inform the registrar whenever there is a change involving amendment to a political party constitution or manifesto.
However, the Bill proposes that the Auditor General audits the financial records of any political party that receives State funds, saying that when Parliament dissolves, political parties should close the party’s books and records of account.
“Subject to the Public Audit Act and the Public Finance Management Act, the minister responsible for finance may issue written instructions for the better control and efficient management of funds provided to political parties under this Act,” reads the Bill.
The Bill also empowers the Secretary to the Treasury to surcharge the amount of any expenditure disallowed on the party and any sum which has not been duly brought into account on the party.
The newspaper comment said the proposal to periodically audit parties would ensure transparenct and accountability while at the sam time “ putting in check other financial crimes such as money laundering.”
United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga agreed that the Bill will improve political party accountability and improve the quality of democracy in Malawi.
“If this Bill passes into law, people will not be forming political parties out of emotions, but rather a clear agenda. The Bill will also help to regulate the political funding in Malawi,” said Ndanga in quotes reported by The Nation.
Ndanga, however, shot down the proposal that a party that fails to win two consecutive elections should be deregistered, saying that point needs to be debated.
“The fact that the party participated in an election, it means that it is a serious party. Failing to win elections could not be blamed on the party,” he said.
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party ( MCP) deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka welcomed the Bill , daying it will bring sanity in the political scene.
University of Malawi political scientist Boniface Dulani however said the law on its own would not be enough without full application and implementation of its provision.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :