By Patricia Mtungila-MEC Stringer
Some civil society organizations in Mzuzu say that the Political Parties Act significantly contributed to guiding voters to elect truly deserving leaders in last month’s tripartite elections.
Peter Mumba, the Governance Coordinator of Mzuzu Civil Society Network (MCISON) said this in an interview in Mzuzu on Wednesday. Mumba was responding to a telephone interview on the relevance of the Law which underwent its first litmus test in the May 21 Elections.
“The Political Parties Law certainly helped, although most politicians did not understand the Law, we observed that the cases of issuing handouts were reduced and the people voted because they knew their leaders and not because of handouts.
“What we saw is that those who were giving the most handouts in the campaigns here in Mzuzu, actually lost,” Mumba said.
Following its enactment on December 1, 2018, the Political Parties Law which among other things bans issuing of handouts to lure voters, was touted by women and youth rights activists for its potential to create an equal platform for women, youth and other financially marginalised groups to compete equally with male elites for political positions.
The governance Activist has however, called for increased sensitization campaigns on the Law in order to clear the confusion that is still surrounding what constitutes a handouts.
“There is need for more sensitization on the Law so that people know what is expected of them as far as the Law is concerned,” Mumba said.
Youth and women rights campaigners in Mzuzu such as Youth and Society, and Mbawemi Women’s Organization who engaged in sensitization campaigns on the Law have already hailed the elections which they say have yielded more women and youth leaders than past elections.
The Country is, however, still awaiting the dedicated office for handling complaints of crimes listed under the Law. But according to Pilirani Masanjala the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson, the Country can breathe a sign of relief as establishment of the long-awaited office of the Registrar of Political Parties is likely to take place after the budget seating of the August House.
According to Masanjala, in the interim, complaints arising from breach of the Act are currently being channeled to the Registrar General.
And one of the groupings that is also mandated with resolving electoral complaints in Mzuzu District, the Multi-Party Liaison Committee says it has not received any complaints of bribing voters during the May 21 Electoral cycle.
Macdonald Gondwe, Spokesperson for the Mzuzu City Council whose Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Macloud Kadam’manja heads the MPLC said that although the Committee is yet to conduct an election postmortem meeting, there have not been any complaints bordering on issuing of handouts in Mzuzu City.
“At local level as MPLC there has not been any complaints after the elections,”Gondwe said.
The election of a woman, Catherine Gotani Hara, the Mzimba North East Parliamentarian as Speaker of Parliament for the first time in Malawi’s history could signal the transforming political landscape in Malawi resulting from the new Law.