Most political candidates take advantage of the electioneering period to pay out lots of money and gifts to the electorate in a bid to sway their decisions in their favour or against their opponents. Many African countries have tried to stem this habit but only a few have managed to successfully pass a law to criminalise the process. One of these countries is Malawi, which passed the Political Parties Act that came to effect on December 1, 2018. The law bans politicians from using cash payments and other incentives to get support ahead of elections in 2019.
Anyone found in contravention of the law will be required to pay up to 10m Kwacha ($835,980.60) or spend five years in jail.
The ban does not affect campaign materials such as posters, leaflets and clothing, according to AP.
The law had been in discussion since 2017 when lawmakers were debating on whether to enforce a partial or full ban. One faction had proposed banning political handouts during the election period but others wanted a complete ban, whether there are elections or not.