Malawi registers 13 political parties
By Mandy Pondani
About 47 political parties in the country are operating illegally, following the successful registration of 13 political parties out of the 60 that exist.
Office of Registrar of Political Parties officials say the 13 have met over 50 percent of the conditions for registration, which are in line with the amended Political Parties Act of 2018.
Some of the conditions set out in the Act are the presentation of audited bank statements, application for registry in 100 party members from each district with certification of
Malawi citizenship by district commissioners, ownership of physical offices and distinguished party symbol, among others.
The development comes after the registration deadline was shifted from June 2021 to July 2021, when none of the parties that commenced registration processes had received feedback from the office.
“This means only 13 political parties can operate and take part in elections in the country, among other things,” said a source on condition of anonymity referring us to the registrar Chikumbutso Namelo.
When contacted on Saturday, however, Namelo was elusive saying: “I do not talk to the media on weekends” but, still, did not commit to respond when called on Monday and Tuesday.
But Executive Director for Centre for Multiparty Democracy Kizito Tenthani confirmed, in a separate interview, to have received communication from Namelo’s office about the development.
“We may not know how many attempted to register and failed to satisfy the conditions present, but the good thing is there still is a chance for political alternatives for Malawians. People have a choice on which party to belong to,” Kizito said.
We have it on authority that the parties which have been duly registered are Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP), United Democratic Front, 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.
An MCP certificate that we have seen indicates that it is valid from August 2 2021, under registration number PPR201803.
“I hereby certify that the Malawi Congress Party has this 2nd day of August 2021 been registered as a political party under the Political Parties Act. Given under my hand at Blantyre, this 22nd day of August Two Thousand and Twenty One,” reads the certificate signed by Namelo.
Commenting on the development, PP spokesperson Ackson Kalaile Banda said in a telephone interview yesterday that, after a rigorous process, they are now a legal political entity.
“We started the process earlier this year which was hectic and we are happy that we are now registered; this also means that we have the backing of the government in our activities,” Kalaile said.
DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba said they would now be able to advance their development agenda, as espoused in their manifesto.
Political analyst George Phiri of the University of Livingstonia commended the move, saying the new legislation could bring sanity to the political terrain.
“We used to have so many political parties, most of which being briefcase political parties which barely had tangible evidence of their existence on the ground. It is now clear that very few of them can withstand times and seasons,” Phiri said.
Asked why her party, New Rainbow Coalition, was missing on the list, party president Loveness Gondwe said she had been attending stakeholder meetings on the matter.
The New Political Parties Act provides that the registrar shall, within 30 days of registering a political party, publish a notice of the registration in the Gazette.