The report of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament on the Political Parties Bill has recommended an amendment to a gender clause of the Bill to be aligned to the Gender Equality Act.
The proposal was made on Tuesday when Parliament endorsed the provision of banning handouts during the official campaign period ahead of elections.
Clause 3 of the Bill proposes a two thirds gender representation in political parties, but the committee has opted for a 40/60 percent framework in line with the Gender Equality Act.
On the appointment of the Registrar of Political Parties, the committee did not agree that the minister should be responsible because of the sensitive nature of the work.
“To ensure fairness, the committee is proposing an amendment to clause 4 and 5 which would result in the involvement of the Public Appointments Committee in the appointment of the registrar,” the committee reported.
The House started debate on the report yesterday after Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu had referred the Bill to the committee in June this year, not long after it was tabled.
Among other things, the Bill outlined the procedure for registration of a political party, created the office of Registrar of Political Parties and defined handouts and campaign materials.
However, it was the matter of handouts which became contentious as debate which followed the tabling of the Bill showed that definitions were lacking.
Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Maxwell Thyolera had said on Tuesday the committee needed to clarify these issues by consulting the drafters and other stakeholders who include the champions of the Bill, Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD).
Thyolera said once the Bill was passed into law, political parties, civil society organisations and other stakeholders would be empowered to start awareness on what the committee described as a ‘retrogressive culture’. n