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Political parties given 6 months

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HUSSEIN—They will find it hard

The number of political parties in the country is likely to be reduced, following the Registrar of Political Parties’ decision to give parties up to June 30 this year to comply with provisions of the Political Parties Act or be deregistered.

Over 60 political parties that were registered since independence need to be reregistered as required by the Political Parties Act and the registrar—Chikumbutso Namelo— has issued a notice following the gazetting of Political Parties Regulation, by Justice Minister Titus Mvalo.

The notice means political parties that were registered before the State President assented to the Act have to re-register before they are allowed to operate in Malawi.

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“All registered political parties are hereby informed that further to the gazetting of Political Parties (Forms and Fees) Regulation 2020, Government Gazette Notice No.101, political parties are required to comply with the Political Parties Act in accordance with Section 48.

“The period for compliance will end on the 30th June 2021 and, at the expiry of the compliance period, any political parties which will not have complied will be deregistered,” the notice reads.

According to the Act, the registrar shall, 30 days before deregistering a political party under subsection (2), give notice in writing to the political party of his intention to deregister, giving reasons for the intended deregistration.

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“Where a political party has been deregistered under subsection (2) the political party may, within thirty days of the deregistration, apply to the High Court for a review of the decision to deregister the political party, and the High Court may make such order as it thinks fit,” reads the Act in part.

This also means political parties have nowhere to hide as they are supposed to declare their source of income, submit financial reports and disclose names of their donors.

Further, the legislation requires political parties to provide proof that they have at least 100 members in each of the country’s administrative districts.

Reacting to the development, political analyst Latim Matenje said this was a cleansing process which some politicians would not like.

“Some of the politicians will be forced to join main political parties while some will be forced to quit politics entirely,” he said.

Political commentator Ernest Thindwa said the development meant there was political will on the part of the government.

“Responsible authorities view the working environment enabling and, therefore, they are keen to make sure that they enforce the political parties Act,” he said.

His counterpart Mustapha Hussein said survival of political parties would depend on how they adjust to the law.

“It will all depend on the collective measures that parties, mostly the small parties, will put in place. If not, they will find it hard to continue to exist in practice,” he said.

In separate interviews with political parties such as UDF, MCP and UTM recently officials they are ready to comply with the Political Parties Act.

Malawi has about 62 political parties.

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