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Government deregisters 47 political parties

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The government has deregistered 47 political parties which, by December 2020, failed to meet conditions for registration, which are in line with the amended Political Parties Act of 2018.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Titus Mvalo told The Daily Times yesterday that the political parties in question have been declared defunct and are not expected to participate in any political activity including elections.

Mvalo said what has happened is in compliance with the law, urging political parties to be law-abiding if they were to meaningfully contribute to the country’s democratic processes.

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“They are defunct; they are no longer on the list of registered political parties. They have ceased to exist and, since they are not on the list of political parties existing in Malawi, they cannot, for example, contest in an election or be part of alliances; they are like dead parties,” Mvalo said.

As of August 2 2021, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties had issued certificates to just 13 out of 60 political parties that have been operational in the last five years.

The Daily Times understands that the 13 registered political parties are Malawi Congress Party, People’s Party, United Democratic Front (UDF), UTM, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Alliance for Democracy, Malawi Forum for Unity and Development, Umodzi Party, People’s Progressive Movement, Freedom Party, Mbakuwaku Movement for Development, People’s Transformation Party and Assembly for Democracy and Development.

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Mvalo has, however, not yet gazetted the registered list of the political parties in line with the amended Act, which provides that the Registrar shall, within 30 days of registering a political party, publish a notice of the registration in the Gazette.

“I am working closely with the Registrar General, who is the interim Registrar of Political Parties, to gazette the list. The law has to be complied with,” he said.

Mvalo said the unregistered political entities could still apply for registration, so long as they meet the requirements, which include an application for registration from 100 party members in each of Malawi’s 28 districts, audited bank statements, party symbol and ownership of physical party offices.

“There is always what we call a reasonable extension. We can’t be too rigid. In law, applications out of time are allowed,” Mvalo said.

President for the Democratic People’s Congress (Depeco) Chris Daza, whose party is in a working relationship with the DPP and UDF, is among those whose entities have been declared defunct.

He did not respond to our questionnaire when we sought his reaction yesterday but, two weeks ago, he said: “I am currently outside Malawi. I know the process started [but I] will need to verify with the team on the ground.”

Political analyst George Phiri hailed the government, saying the law has sifted out political parties that are adding little value to Malawi’s multiparty democracy.

“It is clear that Malawi does not need so many political parties. Three or four are enough and the reduced numbers are also good for our elections. It will be easy to choose a leader because we have done away with minute vote distribution,” Phiri said.

Registrar of Political Parties Chikumbutso Namelo registered the 13 political parties in August last year after missing the June 2021 deadline.

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