Centre for Multiparty Democracy – Malawi (CMD – M) on February 13 signed a US$1,200 ‘Strengthening Political Parties Project Support Document’ with the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The project’s main aim is to empower political parties to effectively participate in Malawi’s multi-party democracy, by among other things, assisting political parties to have clear policy orientation.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, DFID Country Representative Sara Sanyahumbi said the project her organisation was bankrolling alongside UNDP was in response to a recent CMD – M-commissioned study that showed that almost all political parties in Malawi were deficient in all major capacity areas.
She said the project will focus on strengthening political parties’ legal and administrative framework, capacity development and financial management, among other areas.
“We believe that this work will be an important contribution to the achievement of successful elections in Malawi,” said Sanyahumbi.
Taking her turn, UNDP acting Resident Representative Naomi Kitahara said the project - which CMD – M will implement up to 2016 – will address challenges political parties in Malawi face mainly in inter - and intra-party democracy, the “Founders’ syndrome” and lack of transparency and accountability.
“This momentous occasion…reflects UNDP’s firm belief in the important role that political parties play in Malawi’s democratic growth,” she said. “I urge political parties and all stakeholders to embrace the opportunity presented by this project to demonstrate their commitment to contributing to the effective strengthening of democratic governance in Malawi.”
Chairperson of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, Khwauli Msiska, said that his organization is excited with the support from UNDP and DFID since it marks the change heart on the part of Development Partners who have hither to, tended to avoid support to political parties. He observed that political parties are a key component in democratic governance, and that despite their weaknesses and challenges, they hold a key to the implementation of the democratization agenda and good governance that if successful would lead to equitable development.
Apart from supporting political parties to develop issue based platforms (as opposed to personality based politics), the project will also support the revision of the Political Party Registration and Regulation Act, and will ensure the integration of women and the youth in political party structures.