The Minister of Justice, Hon. Samuel Tembenu, has chosen December 1 as the date on which the new Political Parties Law comes into force. I would like to register my deep appreciation to him, and by extention to President Peter Mutharika, for this gesture.
I must admit that after the bill was passed by Parliament 11 months ago, I feared that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party would not sign it into law until after the elections, rendering the bill useless and inoperative during this election cycle. I am happy to find my fears assuaged, and though I would have preferred that the bill was signed into law no later than six months after it was passed, I think 12 months is still a fairly reasonable wait.
I have just finished reading the Law in its entirety. By and large, it is a good and just law. Of course, it is not perfect and has places that need improvement. A case in point is Section 34(2), which states the following: “A political party shall have the right to equitable and balanced coverage during presidential, parliamentary and local government elections by the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation”.
While this is a good rule intended to end the nauseating partisanship of the State broadcaster, the Law neither designates a process by which parties can file complaints against MBC for its inequitable and unbalanced coverage, nor does it stipulate a punishment that the State broadcaster shall be liable to if found guilty of such an offence against any political party. But these oversights notwithstanding, the Law is an excellent step in the right direction, so long as the Registrar’s office is hereafter given the necessary legs to enforce it indiscriminately.
Well done, Mr. President.