NPC allays Political Party Amendment Bill fears
The National Planning Commission (NPC) Tuesday dismissed fears that the process of vetting and certifying political parties’ manifestos before registration is intended to restrict operations of political parties.
Salima Central Member of Parliament Gerald Phiri raised the concern when Legal Affairs Committee (LAC) of Parliament members engaged commission officials as part of the reviewing process of the Political Parties Act of 2018, leading to the alignment of party manifestos to the country’s development agenda.
The Political Party Amendment Bill of 2021 stipulates that: “This Bill seeks to amend the Political Parties Act (Act No. 1 of 2018) in order to provide for a requirement for political party manifestos to be aligned to the country’s medium and long-term development agenda”.
NPC legal counsel Mtamandeni Liabunya Tuesday told LAC members that the commission would be responsible for the process of vetting and certifying all parties intending to register with the office of the Registrar of Political Parties.
The Political Parties Act, under its scrutiny provisions, demands that all political parties align their manifestos to the national development agenda to secure registration.
“The process is to enable the parties to achieve their ambitions through the manifesto and not to restrict parties in any way. To ensure that parties have the confidence that NPC is neutral, NPC will, upon assessment, highlight how and what areas to address if the party fails to align itself to the agenda 2063,” he said.
Section 12 A(8) of the bill allows political parties aggrieved by a decision of the commission to, within 30 days of receiving the decision, apply to the High Court for review of the same.
LAC Chairperson Peter Dimba said the amendment to the bill was progressive and would ensure that national development initiatives do not stall on account of political differences.
Dimba added that there was a need to include a provision on timeframe so that political parties could have a definitive time for releasing manifestos.
“This has to be taken into consideration when passing the bill [into law], which is very soon. People have to be given enough time to digest contents of manifestos,” he said.