Members of Parliament (MP) remain divided on the issue of handouts as provided for in the Political Parties Bill.
Yesterday, a majority of the legislators argued against a proposal by the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament that handouts should only be banned during election campaign period.
The report of the Legal Affairs Committee on the bill currently before Parliament has endorsed the provision of banning handouts by politicians but only during the campaign period ahead of elections.
In his contribution, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila, who is also Nsanje Central legislator, took exception to the proposed amendment to the initial provision that handouts be banned throughout, arguing that this would not meet the objectives of the Bill.
He said: “If the ban is only effected for three months before elections, it means for four years and nine months they will be allowed. It means shadows [aspiring members of Parliament] will be in the constituency earlier.
“I support that handouts be banned throughout except for the work of an MP that is meant to support the constituency. This is why it is very much in order that there be a schedule on what constitutes a handout and what does not, helping to build a church in the constituency should not be a handout.”
Blantyre West MP Peter Kumpalume (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP), a former minister of Health, agreed with Kasaila that the period during which handouts are banned should be extended.
“Elections are not won in the last 60 days of elections but way before. I would want this to remain so it reflects what really happens during elections,” he said.
But a highly charged Salima South MP Uladi Mussa (People’s Party-PP) said the ban would only serve to de-campaign the incumbent MPs.
Citing verses in the Quran and the Bible, he said giving to the needy was a religious requirement that could not be done away with through the Political Parties Bill.
On his part, Ntchisi North MP Boniface Kadzamira (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) applauded the Bill, but proposed that it should have helped political parties to achieve equity on youth involvement, regional balance and development when a party wins an election.
However, Kadzamira welcomed the clarification of what constitutes handouts as well as the proposal to list in a schedule what can be construed as handouts.
Chitipa South MP Werani Chilenga (PP) had no kind words for the provision on handouts, saying it would only hurt the current crop of members in the House who would want to retain their seats.n