A draft bill on political legislation has proposed sweeping changes to the registration and regulation of political parties in Malawi’s, including empowering the Auditor General to audit party finances.
This was disclosed on Wednesday when Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) executive director Kizito Tenthani, whose body is championing the bill, briefed the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee on the progress on the bill, which was drafted in 2011.
Tenthani told the committee that all major political parties who are members of CMD have accepted the bill, but said following change of leadership at Ministry of Justice, negotiations with government to take over the bill as a government bill have stalled.
He said while the bill can be perceived as aimed at reducing the number of political parties, its proposal follows concerns over specific aspects of the law identified as requiring review.
“This includes the absence of general principles for the regulation of political parties; the limited political independence of the Registrar of Political Parties; unsatisfactory conditions for the registration and de-registration of political parties and lack of incentives for intra-party democracy,” said Tenthani.
But Ralph Mhone, a former private practice lawyer who now sits on the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, faulted several technical aspects of the bill, demanding improvements from the working committee.
“One point I certainly do not agree with is the creation of a new office of the Registrar of Political Parties; are we going to be creating a new office for every challenge we face? What is the job of the registrar general? It doesn’t make any sense economically or otherwise,” said Mhone.