Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has urged members of Parliament (MPs) to pass the Political Parties Bill without tampering with the provision on the blanket ban on handouts.
Debate on the Bill earlier this week showed that some MPs were against the proposal of a full ban of handouts while others opted for a recommendation by the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee that they should only be banned during elections campaign period.
Clause 41 of the Bill states: A candidate or political party contesting an election shall not issue handouts.
The Bill defines handouts as transactions where political parties or candidates distribute private goods, cash, gifts and other items to a person as an enticement to vote for the political party or candidate.
However, handouts did not include distribution of party campaign materials such as cloths and T-shirts.
In his remarks in winding up debate, Tembenu said the Political Parties Bill would usher in a new era in political party management and banning handouts was one way of levelling the playing field.
He said Malawians should be empowered to make money themselves.
It was also Tembenu’s argument that an issue-based campaign would attract more Malawians especially the youth to take an interest in politics.
But Tembenu concurred with the recommendation of the Legal Affairs Committee for a clear definition of handouts.
However, Tembenu did not budge on the appointment of the Registrar of Political Parties which the Legal Affairs Committee recommended should involve Parliament in calling for applications.