University of Malawi political scientist Henry Chingaipe said the new law will help clean up politics. “We have propagated a culture of patrimonial politics through handouts,” he said. “Instead of people voting out of conscience, you are essentially buying their vote.”
Former president Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) said “we have to follow what it says”.
May’s election will prove to be one of the most significant in Malawi’s history as Banda, a popular former head of state, will face off against president Peter Mutharika.
Banda is known for donating to the poor across the country, and a party spokesman said it would “see how it will be implemented”.
Mutharika’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it would obey the law “as we do with all other laws”.
The United Transformation Movement (UTM), led by presidential hopeful vice-president Saulos Chilima who has broken ranks with Mutharika, said “we needed this law yesterday”. “We believe that people should be voted for because of the issues and ideas that they propagate,” said UTM spokesman Joseph Chidanti Malunga.
Malawi is one of the world’s most aid-dependent countries and corruption is rife.
Mutharika has become embroiled in a graft scandal after it emerged specialist corruption detectives were investigating a suspect police rations procurement deal.