Malawi: Party funding

Updated February 2019

State funding

Provision for the funding of political parties by the state is provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi (1994, Article 40.2.) which states:

The State must provide funds so as to ensure that, during the life of any Parliament, any political party which has secured more than one-tenth of the national vote in elections to that Parliament has sufficient funds to continue to represent its constituency.

The Political Parties Act of 2018 elaborates on the laws as well as the rules and regulations around party funding. The Political Parties Act makes provisions for political parties to receive funding for the following purposes:

  • Promoting the representation of the party in Parliament;
  • Promoting active participation of individual citizens in political life;
  • Covering of the election expenses of a political party and the broadcasting of the policies of the political party;
  • The organization by the party of civic education in democracy and other political processes; and
  • Administrative and staff expenses of the party (Political Parties Act of 2018, 22 (1)).

The Act states that the funds received by political parties ought not to be used for personal gain and the accounts of the political parties are audited by the Auditor General (Political Parties Act of 2018, 23(2)). Under the law, the Registrar may request that the funds for a certain political party be suspended if that party is not in compliance with the Act (Political Parties Act of 2018, 24). However, prior to the withdrawal of funding by the National Assembly, the registrar must inform the party, with reasons, of its intention to withdraw funding. The registrar must then request the party to provide reasons why the party should not have their funding suspended by the State (Political Parties Act of 2018, 24 (1)(b)).

Subject to the Public Audit Act and the Public Finance Management Act, the minister responsible for finances may issue written instructions requesting for better control and efficient management of funds provided to political parties (Political Parties Act of 2018, 26).

Registered political parties are to open a separate bank account intended for the use of the political party for the purpose of ensuring that party funds are donated into that account only. Furthermore, all assets donated to the party are to be registered in the name of the party, every five years from the date of registration, political parties are to declare their assets to the registrar (Political Parties Act of 2018, 27 (2)).

Private funding

The Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (Chapter 2:01) (66) provides that:

Every political party may, for the purpose of financing its campaign, appeal for and receive voluntary contributions from any individual or any non-governmental organisations or other private organization in or outside Malawi.

This is reiterated in the Political Parties Act of 2018 which states that "political parties are permitted to solicit donations from its members, private individuals and organisations within or outside of Malawi (Political Parties Act of 2018, 27 (2)). Subject to the following:

  • Donations with a monetary value of at least K1000 000 (US$1 400, 19 February 2019) from an individual donor and at least K2000 000 (US$2 800, 19 February 2019) from an organization must be declared to the Registrar within thirty days of receipt (Political Parties Act of 2018, 27 (2)(a)).
  • Furthermore, aggregate donations donated within a month with a monetary value of at least K1000 000 from an individual and at least K2000 000 from an organisation need to be declared (Political Parties Act of 2018, 27 (2)(b)).

Additionally, persons and organisations who have donated to political parties have to declare to the registrar in cases where the donations exceed K1000 000 for individuals and K2000 000 for organisations (Political Parties Act of 2018, 27 (4)).

Only the President, Secretary-General or Treasurer-General may formally declare to party funding to the Registrar. Failure by donors or political parties to declare their assets will lead to the those being liable for a fine equal "to the amount of the funds or the value of the assets not declared or in relation to which false information was given, and to imprisonment for two years" (Political Parties Act of 2018, 27 (6)(a)(b)).

References

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI 1994; includes amendments to 2017.

PARLIAMENTARY AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ACT (Chapter 2:01).

POLITICAL PARTIES ACT, 2018.