Justice Minister, Samuel Tembenu has said the Political Parties Act, passed by parliament last November and assented to by the President in February will be gazetted before the next year’s tripartite elections.
Tembenu was speaking at a Public debate on the role of youth in politics organised by the Centre for Democracy (CMD) at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe on Thursday.
During the debate, one of the challenges cited by the youth as being a hurdle to their meaningful participation in politics was the culture of giving handouts to voters for persons seeking elective office.
“As young people, we do not have money and are unable to compete with elders, some of whom sell houses to invest in campaigns putting young people at a disadvantage,” Maria Jika who contested as a councillor in 2014 but did not succeed said during the debate, suggesting that it would be better if handouts were outlawed.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka, who is also Vice Chair for the CMD said Malawi now has a Political Parties Act which is only waiting for the Justice Minister to gazette it for the law to start being used.
When debate moderator, Peter Jegwa was informed that Tembenu was in the audience, he asked the minister to respond as when he would have the law gazetted.
In response, Tembenu said he would soon be meeting with leaders of political parties to ensure that they are ready for the law to come into effect.
“I did not want to just appoint the date (for gazetting) before political parties are ready. I would like to have a meeting with them first. But I can assure you it will be done before the elections,” Tembenu said.
The Political Parties Act, which will replace and old Political Parties Registration and Regulation Act, spells requirements that parties must meet in order to be registered and what they must do to avoid being de-registered.
It also criminalises giving the practice of candidates inducing would be voters with handouts.
Young people at the debate said handouts were one of the biggest hindrances for them when seeking elective offices.
Clement Makuwa, who is Director for Young Politicians Union, also said another way of helping more youth going into parliament of Local Governments was through introducing quotas while Asiyatu Chakwera who wants to contest as a councillor on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket in Salima said it would help if the youth were helped with resources.
Main speakers at the debate, which was organised with financial support from Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD) were DPP Organising Secretary, Chimwemwe Chipungu, MCP’s Mkaka, United Democratic Front (UDF) Secretary General Kandi Padambo and his People Party (PP) counterpart, Ibrahim Matola.
Wazamazama katatu of MCP, who was one of discussants, caused a stir when he suggested that the controversial MK145million returned by DPP after it was said to be subject of a corruption investigation should be used to subsidize nomination fees for the youth.
He was, however, ruled out of order by the moderator.