Government urged to finance political parties in respect to general elections 2021

 

Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) has called upon the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to explain why they have consistently disregarded the prevailing law on providing Government funding to political parties in respect of elections.
The Political Parties and Organizations Act (as amended) section 14 (b) provides that: “in respect to
Elections, Government shall finance political organizations and parties on an equal basis;” while 14 (c) provides that: “in respect of normal day to day activities, funding shall be based on the numerical
strength of each political party or organization in Parliament;”.
Since 2011, the Electoral Commission acting on directions of the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, has consistently divided the money in respect to numerical strength hence
benefiting mostly the NRM party in power which has numerical superiority in Parliament. Since
2011, Uganda has held two elections (2011, 2016) but political parties have never been funded in
respect of the same.
The yardstick used by the finance ministry to use section 14(c) and not 14(b) including during
election time, remains as nebulous as the hanging gardens of Babylon. In mid-October 2020 – hardly
four months away from the general elections 2021, the finance ministry released UGX 15 billion and
directed the Electoral Commission to again apply the formula of numerical strength.
One would have expected and rightly so, that since the money is being released in the head of
election campaigns, it would be managed in line with section 14 (b): “in respect to Elections,
The government shall finance political organizations and parties on an equal basis;” but as always, it was ignored.
ACFIM warned that by consistently ignoring section 14(b), the Ministry of Finance Planning and
Economic development risks being held in contempt of the Political Parties and Organizations Act. It
also puts Uganda’s security in peril because having been deprived access to equal funding, distressed political parties may resort to external sources who have their own agendas for funding.
The political finance watchdog (ACFIM), further urged the Electoral Commission to publicly make
accessible information on Government financing to political Parties has been utilized and accounted
for since 2011. The political parties benefiting from Government financing were also tasked to
disclose to Ugandans utilization of received funds as well as reveal other sources of political party
income.
ACFIM believes that in an ideal multiparty democracy, political parties are the key mechanisms that
fulfill a vital intermediate role between citizens and the state, in which they are supposed to
represent citizens’ interests and translate these into a policy agenda that responds to citizens’
concerns. This cannot be achieved without adequate financing.