Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs is yet to develop regulations to support the Political Parties Act President Peter Mutharika assented to earlier this year to regulate political party financing and ban handouts before and during the electoral cycle.
The law, among other things, compels political parties to disclose to the registrar of political parties sources of their funding and any donations. Politicians would also be required to amass 100 signatures per district to register a political party.
With the law not yet in force, political parties not obliged to comply with this ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
According to the Act, any party that fails to participate in two consecutive elections and does not hold a convention, will be struck off the register of political parties.
But Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said in an interview yesterday: “I am going to invite political parties and some parliamentary [committees] to develop regulations because there are certain rules that must be promulgated before the Act can come into force. This has to be done before the minister can declare that it is now in force.”
However, the minister said government was committed to ensuring that provisions in the Act are used in the ongoing electoral cycle as that was the main purpose of passing the Bill in November 2017.
He said: “This will be done as soon as is possible and the legislation will be ready in anticipation of the elections next year. The whole reason we passed the law [last November] was to have it ready for next election.”
Some provisions, according to the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), which lobbied for the enactment of the law, will only come into effect once the minister gazettes a date for the law to come into force.
One of these provisions is the ban on handouts which includes Sub-section 41 (2) reads: “A person shall not solicit or procure another person to issue handouts.”
CMD executive director Kizito Tenthani said in an interview yesterday it was after the law comes into force that political parties would be given 12 months to re-register in line with the requirements to collect 100 signatures per district, declare their assets and disclose source of their financing.
The law also empowers the Registrar General would act as registrar of political parties until such a time that the substantive registrar is appointed.
Said Tenthani: “We discussed with the Minister of Justice and he assured us that he is looking into appointing a date for coming into force but he just wants to be sure political parties are ready. As CMD which championed the law, we have taken the responsibility of sensitising the political parties to the requirements.”
CMD has since targeted political parties which passed the bill and those outside Parliament on how to comply with the law.
“All parties are taken as duly registered for now until the registrar of political parties is appointed or the law comes into force,” he said.
Political parties will also be compelled to comply with the Gender Equality Act requirement of 60/40 composition when they appoint membership of party organs and committees, according to the Act.
The Act outlines transactions which would not constitute handouts including campaign materials, facilitation of political party meetings through transport refunds, meals and entertainment for the candidate’s entourage.