Abuse of public resources worrries election stakeholders

Patel: The review is necessary
Patel: The review is necessary

The abuse of public resources by government dominated the elections code of conduct for political parties review meeting in Blantyre on Thursday.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) invited political parties, civil society and commentators to a stakeholders meeting aimed at reviewing the 2009 code of conduct for political parties.

Speaking at the meeting, a political scientist, Nandin Patel,  said there is need to  review the code of conduct considering that many parties have ushered in new leaders after conventions and that next year’s elections will choose the president, MPs and councillors.

Under review was the code of conduct prescribed under Section 61(2) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act number 31 of 1993 and under Section 45 of the Local Government Elections Act number 24 of 1996.

Chapter seven of the code, titled ‘prohibited conducts’, had only 15 issues which mainly focused on the use of language and tolerance. However, delegates added the 16th one which read: “abuse of public resources by the incumbent (government) for political party purposes,” as a prohibited conduct.

In an interview, one of the delegates, Aford publicity secretary Dan Msowoya said the paragraph was proposed because people were concerned about the abuse of resources by the party in power.

“The President conducts what she calls development meetings, but it’s actually party meetings. People might argue that she is privileged, but what about all those ministers that follow her?

“There is also an issue of MBC where the President is all over [being covered],” said Msowoya.

In Section Four, chapter one (on rights of parties and candidates), the issue of public resources was added to say that there should be equitable distribution of the public resources. There is also prohibition of character assassination or defamatory insinuation conducts.

MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the amended code of conduct will be circulated to members.

“After that, it will be circulated to members and if they agree that the amendments have indeed been made according to what they suggested, a final copy will be issued,” said Mwafulirwa.

Those who attended the meeting  included party secretary generals such as Paul Maulidi (People’s Party ), Kandi Padambo (United Democratic Front), Jean Kalirani (Democratic Progressive Party) and Khwauli Msiska of Alliance for Democracy (Aford).

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