Updated June 2006
The Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (1993, 61(2)) tasks the Electoral Commission with the establishment of a code of conduct binding on political parties in their conduct of election campaigns. Accordingly the Electoral Commission of Malawi (undated) has issued the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections: Political Party Code of Conduct ("Code"). The Code is legally binding as a regulation issued by the Electoral Commission and can be enforced through legal sanctions.
The purpose of the Code is "to promote conditions that are conducive to a free and fair election that include tolerance for democratic debate and political activity and for the free expression of individual opinions and beliefs" (Section 1).
All political parties, candidates, members and supporters are expected to display, advertise and promote the code (Section 2). Parties and candidates are expecteed to abide by the Code, to instruct there members, supporters and officials to abide by it and to enforce it on them (Section 3). They must also publically declare the right of all to:
Parties must commit themselves to accept the results of the elections or to challenge them in court (section 7).
Parties or candidates must inform the police and the local authorities of the times and venues of public events to enable traffic control and maintenance of peace and order (Section 5(1)). They must ascertain before hand if there are any restrictions in force and comply with them scrupulously or apply for exemption timeously (Section 5(2)). Organisers may not deal with disruptors of meetings themselves, but seek the intervention of the police (Section 5(3)). Parties are prohibited from organising public events close to one another on the same day (Section 5(4)).
Parties and candidates are prohibited from using official positions to campaign and in particular from the use of official visits by government officials or state transport for electioneering (Section 6 (i)). Public facilities such as meeting venues and helicopters must be made available to all parties on the same terms as the party in power (Section 6 (ii)).
The use of state funds to finance adverts in the mass-media and the use of state owned media for partisan election coverage is prohibited (Section 6 (iii)). From the time that elections are announced candidates, parties, Ministers and other authorities are prohibited from (Section 6 (iv-v)):
Only candidates and authorised agents are permitted in polling stations (Section 6 (vi)). Further measures include prohibitions on (Section (vi)):
Parties are enjoined to cooperate with one another and to appoint officials to deal with problems as they arise (Section 9(1)). Parties must further cooperate with law enforcers in recovering weapons of violence and the arrest of their possessors (Section 9(2)). Parties and candidates must ensure freedom of access to opponents to private and public property (Section 10).
Parties must cooperate with the Electoral Commission by (Section 11):
Parties and candidates are expected to recognise the role that the media plays at election time, to allow access of the media to public events and to ensure that members of the media are not subjected to harassment, intimidation, danger, threat or assault (Section 12).
Parties and candidates must accept the right of the Commission to enforce the Code through (Section 13):
Parties that are aggrieved by a fine or a disqualification may appeal against the sanction to the High Court within seven days of its imposition.
Section 14 of the Code reiterates the electoral offences laid out in the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (1993, 115-116).
PARLIAMENTARY AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ACT 31 OF 1993.
ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF MALAWI UNDATED, "Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections: Political Party Code of Conduct".