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Longer wait for Political Parties Act

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BY JAMESON CHAULUKA:

Malawians should brace for a longer wait before the Political Parties Act comes into force.

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson, Pilirani Masanjala, said he is not sure as to when the Act will see the light of day, saying an office has to be set up before it becomes operational.

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Masanjala said after the setting up of the office, officers will have to be recruited to ensure that parties comply with the Act.

“There is need to appoint the Registrar of Political Parties in line with Section 4 of the Act. For now, we are just waiting for funding for the exercise from the government.

“I cannot say for sure when the Act will come into force. There are issues to do with funding and we can only wait for the budget which passed in the last session of Parliament,” he said.

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President Peter Mutharika assented to the Political Parties Bill in February alongside the Referendum Bill after the two were passed by Parliament in December last year.

Masanjala said it is normal that government sets up enabling institutions for a new Act before appointing a date when it would come into force.

According to Masanjala, the current Registrar General doubles as Registrar of Political Parties which is not in line with the Act.

“Ordinarily, between the President assenting to an Act and before a minister appoints a commencement date, depending on the provisions of the particular Act, there is need for some institutions to be set up so that the Act is fully implemented. Such an arrangement requires a specific budget and the recruitment of personnel,” he said.

Centre for Multiparty Democracy Executive Director, Kizito Tenthani, has been pushing for the Act to be implemented and said he will meet government officials and political parties to find the best way forward.

“The Minister [of Justice] said he will meet us and other political parties on the operational date of the Act as soon as Parliament rises. So we are just waiting,” Tenthani said.

He, however, urged Malawians not to panic with delays as the 2019 tripartite elections approach, saying the Act is not about the management of elections but merely the conduct of political parties.

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