Inactive parties to be deregistered
Parliament Thursday passed a bill that will regulate operations of political parties in the country.
The Political Parties Bill was passed after a heated debate on the issue of handouts, which is just one of the issues in it.
However, the bill has other elements which include banning the practice of receiving funds from parastatals and deregistration of political parties that do not participate in elections, as well as those that do not hold conventions.
Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Chairperson, Maxwell Thyolera, said the new law is going to assist in promoting transparency and accountability.
“The bill is also banning parastatals from sponsoring any political party. There has been a general outcry that ruling parties tend to abuse public resources, through parastatals, getting vehicles and maybe money or even campaign materials. We have evidence to that effect. Therefore, issues of transparency and accountability should be expected when this law becomes operational,” Thyolera said.
One of the sections of the bill states that political parties will be compelled to disclose where they get funding of K1 million or more from individuals and funding of K2 million or more from organisations.
In the final scrutiny of the bill, Members of Parliament (MPs) continued expressing concern over the issue of handouts.
Chitipa South MP Werani Chilenga asked if in the context of the bill, the word handout implies that parliamentarians should not be assisting people who have been bereaved in the constituency.
Dowa East parliamentarian, Richard Chimwendo Banda, also asked the House to consider giving ample time for consultation.
“Give us time to reflect [on this]. For now, keep the law as it is, so that there should be room for consultation,” he said.
Despite the reservations, the MPs eventually passed the bill.
In an interview, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, said the challenge would be implementation.
The new law will replace Political Parties (registration and Regulation) Act of 1993.
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