Registration and deregistration of political parties

Last week we looked at proposals on regulating political party and campaign funding  as contained in the draft Political Parties Bill drafted by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD). Today we look at the proposals on political party registration and deregistration. This comes against a dwindling participation of parties in elections. Out of over 54 parties only 19 participated in 2014 Tripartite Elections.

The draft bill by CMD has the following proposals:

  • Application for registration of a political party: A political party, consisting of not less than 20 people in each district who are eligible to vote may apply in writing to the Registrar for registration. The application shall be signed by office bearers of the party specifying the name of the party with supporting documents including two copies of the constitution,  and manifesto of the party, duly certified by the leader of the party; particulars of the registered office of the party; names, postal and physical addresses of the leader and other office bearers of the party; names, addresses and signatures of not less than twenty members of the party resident in each district which shall reflect fair representation of gender, youth, and people with disabilities; and a graphic representation  of the  symbol of the party.   
  • Certificate of registration and its effect: The registrar shall issue a certificate, stamp copies of the constitution and manifesto and return a copy to the party.  Upon registration, a political party shall become a body, with corporate perpetual succession and a common seal,  capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name, capable of acquiring and disposing of any moveable or immovable property; and able to exercise its powers, functions and duties. The party shall always display its certificate of registration at a conspicuous place at its registered office. The Registrar shall within thirty days publish a notice of the registration of a political party in the Gazette.
  • Refusal to register: The Registrar may refuse to register a party if the application is not in conformity with the Constitution of Malawi or this Act; the name is identical or confusingly similar to the name of a registered or deregistered (except where five years have elapsed) political party; denotes a religious faith or a regional or ethnic identity; or is provocative or offends against public decency and morals or is contrary to any other written law; the symbol of the party is confusingly similar to a  symbol of a  registered or deregistered (except where five years have elapsed)  political party; or the purpose or objects of the party are unlawful.

 

  • Appeal against refusal to register: A party may within thirty days of receiving the notice of refusal, appeal to the High Court through an office bearer.
  • Deregistration of a registered political party: The Registrar shall deregister a party on his own motion, or upon application by a member of the political party if:
    •  he is satisfied that the registration of the party was obtained by fraud or mistake;
    • the party has not held a convention for a  period of at least five consecutive years from the date of registration or its last convention;
    • the party has not secured at least a seat in parliamentary elections, or at least five per cent of  national votes for parliamentary elections, or at least two seats in local government elections or ten per cent of  national votes in the local government elections;
    • the party  has been  dissolved in accordance with its constitution. 
    • if the party, after notice of the Registrar requiring the party to comply with this Act, fails to do so within thirty days;
    • if the Registrar is satisfied that the party or its agents are giving handouts during campaign period or elections period;
    • if the Registrar is satisfied that the party has ceased to exist.
  • Appeal against deregistration or intended deregistration: Upon receipt of the notice and before the period specified in the notice has elapsed, a political party may appeal to the High Court against the intended deregistration. Where a party has been deregistered, it may appeal to the High Court within fourteen days after the publication of the notice of deregistration in the gazette.
  • Notice of change in registered particulars: A party shall, within fourteen days of any change in its registered particulars, notify the Registrar in writing of such change.
  • Failure to notify changes: Failure to notify the register on change of registered particulars shall be an offence and liable to a fine of K500, 000, and to a further fine of K50, 000 for each day that the offence continues.
  • Refusal to register amendments: The Registrar may refuse to register an amendment if it appears to him that by reason of the amendment, the purpose or objects of the political party would be unlawful; or the amendment contravenes this Act, or the amendment contravenes and drastically changes the objectives of the party.