Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee says it is ready with a report on the scrutiny of the Political Parties Bill which, among others, seeks to compel parties to disclose sources of their funding and outlaws handouts.
In an interview on Thursday, committee chairperson Maxwell Thyolera said his committee undertook a thorough scrutiny of the proposed law and developed a schedule listing what constitutes a handout to avoid confusion.
He said: “As a committee, we have also removed a clause which empowered a Cabinet minister to be the only person to determine what a handout is and have instead proposed that there should be a tripartite union comprising the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Malawi Electoral Commission and the Centre for Multiparty Democracy. We believe the tripartite arrangement will check against abuse of power.”
Thyolera said his committee expects to present the report in Parliament during the forthcoming November meeting.
Updates on the Political Parties Bill come against the background of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) facing pressure to refund some State agencies which pledged to collectively pay K13.5 million during the July 29 2017 Blue Night fundraising dinner and dance at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where President Peter Mutharika was the guest of honour.
Five CSOs—Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Youth and Society (YAS), Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and CCAP Synod of Livingstonia’s Church and Society Programme—have taken to court the DPP and Blantyre and Lilongwe city councils as well as Lilongwe Water Board for the pledges.
Mzuzu City Council, which pledged K3.5 million, has since signed a consent order not to fulfil its pledge.
Commenting on the Political Parties Bill, British High Commissioner Holly Tett told The Nation that they were looking forward to the legislation because it will help promote transparency and accountability while stamping out corruption at the same time.
She said: “This Bill sets out a conducive legal framework, rooted in the Constitution, to regulate the establishment and operation of political parties.
“It should go some way to promote good governance in the use of resources for political parties and in this way, limit opportunities for corruption. We look forward to a deep and broad debate on the Bill in Parliament in November.”
Under Section 178 of the Constitution and Section 23 of the Public Finance Management Act, no single tambala of public money is supposed to be expended unless such expenditure is authorised by an Appropriation Act or is a statutory expenditure. n