Political Parties Act to start biting from next month

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s political party leaders better start watching their backs because the restrictive Political Parties Act which compels them to declare their source of financing and also stops handouts, becomes operational next month — December 1, 2018.

“In exercise of the Powers conferred by section 1 of Political Parties Act, 2018, I Samuel Tembenu Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs appoint December 1st, 2018 as the date on which the act comes into operational,” reads the notice signed by the minister.

The range of donations to be declared is from K1 million above from individuals and K2 million and above from companies.

Article 41 (1) of the Act says that a candidate or political party contesting in an election shall not issue handouts and failure to adhere to that attracts a fine of K10 million or five years imprisonment.

During the debate in parliament last year on party financing, many lawmakers were of the view that party donations corrupt democracies.

The MPs observed that party financing is complex, dirty and dominated by political donations, vested interest, personal ambitions, class and power.

The ongoing investigation that Anti-Corruption Bureau is conducting at the Malawi Police Service involving Zameer Karim, a businessman, is a case in point.

Karim deposited a MK145 million cheque into the ruling party fundraising account. Karim is also reported to have bought five cars at MK85 million for the party.

All this happened after Police awarded Pioneer Investments, a company owned by Karim, a MK2.7 billion contract.

The DPP has since given back the K145 million after a public backlash that has rattled the establishment seven months before the country goes to the polls.

The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament welcomed the news and lauded the minister for making the Act operational.

“We are delighted that finally the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has set a date where by Political Parties Act will be operational. We have been looking forward to this date and I know that there have been a series of meetings taking place urging the Minister to operationalise this Act, said parliament committee chairperson Maxwell Thyolera as quoted in The Daily Times.

The Act also provides that any political party that fails to participate in two consecutive elections and does not conduct a convention would be struck off the register of political parties.

With the Act in force United Transformation Movement (UTM) may risk being deregistered if it does not hold a convention this month

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