Threatened by the registration of UTM as a political party, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has gazetted a notice of commencement of for Political Parties Act from December 1 2018, which President Peter Mutharika assented to on January 24 this year with the aim of barring UTM of contesting in next year’s elections.
One of the provisions of the Act is that a political party must exist for at least a year before it is allowed to participate in elections, which analysts fear is targeting UTM.
According to the notice of commencement, dated November 1 2018, Tembenu said in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 1 of the Political Parties Act 2018, he appoints the December 1 2018 as the date on which the Act shall come into operation.
However, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Alfred Majamanda said, that as is always the case, the law will not apply retrospectively, as of December 1.
He said there is nothing for UTM or any other newly registered political parties to fear as the law cannot be applied retrospectively.
“We all know that the law cannot be applied retrospectively and essentially what this means is that when the law becomes operational on 1st December 2018, any political party registered after this date will have to operate for one year before they can contest in an election, so all those registered before will not be affected by this law,” said another constitutional lawyer who asked not to be named.
This comes as a relief to UTM supporters who felt the law was being targeted at them barely a day after the High Court in Blantyre ruled that the Registrar of Political parties should register UTM as a political party.
Some of the major changes the new law will bring once in force on December 1 is the banning of handouts by politicians and disclosure of party financing.
Among other issues, the new law compels political parties to disclose their funding and donations of K1 million and above from individuals and those above K2 million from companies.
The Political Parties Act is replacing the current Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Act and addresses challenges faced when regulating the registration, financing and functioning of political parties in the country.
The MLS president, however, requested government to give notice of commencement for Access to Information (ATI) Act, arguing it is an important piece of legislation which can facilitate what the nation aspire for as a developing democracy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :