The legal provisions to bar handouts from Malawi politics are proving to be mountainous obstacles that authorities have been challenged to thoroughly enforce.
This was reported by a consortium comprising civil society organisations (CSOs), namely National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), the Public Affairs Committee and the Mhub.
Boniface Chibwana, the consortium’s current chairperson, said although handouts for purposes of electioneering are banned under the Political Parties Act, the conduct is still there.
“The law was not enforced at all mainly because of the absence of an institutional framework for collaboration between the Electoral Commission which regulates the electoral process and the Registrar of political parties which has mandate to enforce the Political Parties Act,” Chibwana said.
The maximum penalty for contravening the law is K500 000 and a two year custodial sentence while the Political Parties Act attracts a fine of K10 million and a five year custodial sentence.
However, Chibwana has recommended that the laws on political and campaign financing as provided in the Political Parties Act should be operationalized as soon as possible to manage and contain the influence of money in politics and governance.
As if to corroborate with the observation, Deputy Commissioner of Police Noel Kayira, who is stationed at MEC’s nerve centre, reported that of the 38 police cases linked to the fresh presidential elections only one concerns hand-outs.
“Fredokiss, real name Fred Penjani Kalua who is son to cabinet minister Kamlepo Kalua , has been charged with the offense of offering handouts during elections time contrary to Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA).
“The charge is against Section 115 of the PPEA and Section 41 of the Political Parties Act. The two acts prohibit people from offering inducement to people during voting,” said Kayira.
He said the other cases involved suspicions movement of retired soldiers moving en-masse along the lakeshore districts of Salima and Nkhotakota who clashed with community members, cases of aggression in Mzimba where some people invaded a polling centre armed with metal objects, violence and unruly conduct.