There is renewed push for major political parties to disclose their sources of funding amid allegations that they illegally benefitted from United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar who is under probe for alleged corruption
In an interview yesterday, the parties promised to comply with the law and disclose their sources of funding by the July 8 2022 deadline.
However, political analysts have challenged the government to walk the talk on stamping out corruption by establishing a stand-alone office of the Registrar of Political Parties to fully operationalise and enforce the Political Parties Act.
Centre for Multiparty Democracy executive director Kizito Tenthani, whose institution champions the review of the law, yesterday said the main challenge is that the office of the Registrar of Political Parties is yet to be established just as its head is yet to be appointed.
He said: “In the meantime, we are using the Registrar General to act as Registrar of Political Parties.”
The Political Parties Act makes provisions for regulating the registration financing and functioning of political parties, which include a provision that demands political parties to declare donations to the registrar.
Reads Section 27 subsection 2 of the Act: “A political party may, for purposes of financing its activities, appeal for and receive donations from any individual or organisation within or outside Malawi, provided that the source of every donation, whether in cash or in kind and whether once or cumulatively, with a monetary value of at least K1 000 000 from an individual donor and of at least K2 000 000 from an organisation shall within 90 days of its receipt be declared to the registrar by the political party concerned.”
But Tenthani said using the Registrar General to act as Registrar of Political Parties brings capacity challenges for the country to fully benefit from the Act.
He said: “The Office of the Registrar General has its own core functions. The issues to do with the Political Parties Act are just an addition. One can understand that the office of the Registrar General may not have been configured to handle the demands of the Political Parties Act.
“The of f ice of the Registrar General may not have people with the necessary skill sets to handle the functions; it may not have the resources, and indeed it may not have the time to dedicate to the implementation of the Political Parties Act.”
His sentiments echo what the registrar, Chikumbutso Namelo, said last week in reaction to President Lazarus Chakwera’s speech on the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) report provided to his office.
Name l o sa id the Department of the Registrar General lacks the capacity and resources to implement and enforce the Act.
He said: “The Act provides for the establishment of the office of the registrar of political parties. The Registrar General is Registrar of Political Parties only in an interim capacity until that office is established.”
In his address, Chakwera said the ACB has 14 ledger books confiscated from Sattar which have information about donations the businessperson made to politicians from all major political parties.
The President said this confirmed ACB’s sentiments that one reason
that fuels corruption in Malawi is the advance capturing of political parties before they get into power by businesspersons through donations not declared to the Registrar of Parties in accordance with the law.
He said: “My office will give the Registrar’s office any support it needs to investigate the political donations found in those ledger books, and to take appropriate action against the affected political parties