• Regulation of Political Party Financing and Campaign Spending is aimed at preventing state capture.
• The issue of financing political parties is topical not only in Zambia but world over.
• Unregulated political party financing and campaign financing can lead to the capture of political parties and the state.
Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has emphasized the need for members of the public to know the sources of funding for various political parties so as to avoid certain risks.
Speaking at a training workshop for Academia, Media and Civil Society Organizations on Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks of Political Party and Campaign Financing, TI-Z Programs Manager Raymond Mutale said unregulated political party financing and campaign spending can be a conduit for illicit financial flows, lead to the capture of political parties and ultimately lead to state capture/
Mr. Mutale explained that political parties run with costs as they finance their activities, hence the need for the public to know where they are getting their resources from.
He noted that Political parties play a very crucial role with regards to political governance as they provide the leadership that is needed in the country and also create opportunities for citizens to participate in political governance.
“The issue of financing political parties is topical not only in Zambia but world over. For Zambia, the issue of political party financing came to the fore around the early 2000s, and 2003 there was some movement that was made in as far as political party and campaign financing legislation is concerned. So, there was a deal that was crafted but unfortunately the then President Levy Mwanawasa did not assent to that Bill and the reasons were that we were not financially stable to finance political activities.”
“But the issue of political party financing is very important in that if we do not check who finances political parties, we run a risk and the first risk that we run is political party financing can be a conduit for illicit financial flows so you will see a situation where dirty money finds its way in the country where dirty decisions emanate from. Secondly, unregulated political party financing and campaign financing can lead to the capture of political parties, a situation where the financiers start determining what decisions political parties should make and this ultimately can lead to state capture,” Mr. Mutale said.
And Mr. Mutale disclosed that TI-Z trained over 60 political party officials in 2021 on issues of political party and campaign financing to try and see their commitment with regards to transparency because no political party including the ruling party is willing to give information on who is funding their activities.
Speaking at the same event, TI-Z Legal Consultant Garth Phiri said enactment of the Political Parties Bill is critical as it will regulate, strengthen, monitor, and supervise political parties in the country with regards to financing.
Mr. Phiri stated that once enacted into law, the piece of legislation will also help the public to know where political parties are getting their money from.
He also revealed that there is a provision in the draft bill which advocates for establishment of a fund for political parties so as to encourage transparency and accountability.
Mr. Phiri noted that funding for political parties is important because it enables those with limited resources to reach the masses and share ideas that can transform the country.
“Some political parties may not have the financial muscle to reach out to the masses and yet those voices need to be heard by the whole country. Funding of political parties enables access to hidden ideas to come to the surface, ideas which are necessary for running this country. Imagine a small political party because of a good law, receive enough funding to be able to afford seats in Parliament couldn’t they debate on how they improve this economy so that’s the first benefit that we allow so called smaller voices to also come to the surface,” Mr. Phiri stated.
Caritas Zambia added its voice and also called for the enactment of the Political Parties Bill as it will result into upholding of the rule of law, strengthen institutions of Governance as well as allow citizens to know the sources of funding for various political parties.
Organization Democracy and Governance Officer Wilbroad Kangala noted that knowing sources of funding for political parties will prevent state capture by financiers of these associations.
“We really need to regulate the operations of our political parties and also have some measures in terms of how funds are generated. This will help our country enhance democracy in the sense that there will be nothing like under five political parties like we refer to them because we will be operating on some kind of equal surface and this will prevent our country from what is globally known as state capture kind of a situation,” Mr. Kangala stated.
Meanwhile, Zambia National Democratic Institute Resident Program Manager Lavu Phiri said enactment of the Political Parties Bill is long overdue because the country has already been divided into classes of structures where the rich are ruling and those perceived to be poor are not given a chance to ascend to power.
Mr. Phiri further challenged the media to take interest in reporting on issues bordering on political parties financing and campaign spending.
“We need to remove this notion that only the rich or those who have money can ascend to power. We need to give an opportunity to those poor people because their ideas can also have improve the country and so this training is timely and I hope the media will take an interest in reporting on these issues,” he said.
On the other hand, TI-Z Advocacy, Policy and Research Lead, Bright Chizonde explained that Campaign finance regulation covers rules on contribution and expenditure limits, reporting and disclosure obligations of electoral constraints to provide information about the origin of received contributions, the nature of incurred expenditure, and enforcement of campaign finance rules by an oversight body.
“The Regulation of Political Party Financing and Campaign Spending is aimed at preventing state capture, limiting Grand Corruption and promoting free and fair elections.”
“Political Party Financing and Campaign Spending can be limited through contribution limits and bans, spending limits and time limits, public disclosure requirement and Public Financing. The most common forms of regulation are public financing (66%) and public disclosures (60%) of the 180 countries surveyed, Mr. Chizonde explained.
In 2003, legislation to provide for the funding of political parties, the Political Parties Bill was introduced in the National Assembly and when it passed its second reading, then President late Levy Mwanawasa did not assent to it on grounds that Zambia did not have finances required to execute the provisions of the Bill.