IS ELECTORAL COMMISSION COMPLICIT IN A PLOT TO KEEP OPPOSITION POLITICAL PARTIES FINANCIALLY STRESSED?
Is Electoral Commission Complicit in a Plot to Keep Opposition Political Parties Financially Stressed?
The Electoral Commission (EC) has continued with its blatant disregard of section 14(b) of the Political parties and Organizations Act (as amended) 2005 by applying the wrong formular. On January 10, 2020, the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED), Hon. Matia Kasaija was reported in the headline article titled; Government Releases Ugx2.5B ($675,675) to Political Parties, to have directed that the funds should be shared equally.
The Ugx2.5B released with barely a week to the general elections as it were, was shared using a formular of numerical strength in Parliament prescribed in section 14(c) yet since it was released within a week to elections, the formular prescribed in Section 14(b) is equal share. The parties represented in Parliament that are entitled to public financing this financial year include NRM, JEEMA, UPC, Democratic Party (DP) and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
As a consequence, the Justice Forum (JEEMA) and Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC), each of whom has one MP, have received a paltry Ugx11million ($2,972) as opposed to Ugx500 million ($135,135) which the command of Section 14(b) entitles them to. Once again, the incumbent National Resistance Movement which boasts of Parliamentary majority, took a lion’s share of the money.
It is recalled that the spirit and intent of amending the Political Parties and Organizations Act in 2010, was to provide financial oxygen to political organizations/parties, as well as attempt to level the conditions for electoral competition between them. This is why the amendment reads as follows;
14(b). “in respect of elections, government shall finance political organizations and parties on equal basis;
14(c). “in respect of normal day to day activities, funding shall be based on numerical strength of each political party or organization in Parliament.
Releasing the funds within a week of campaigns was timely because this was the time when political parties were yearning for funds to train and deploy polling agents across the country.
The secret known is that if the opposition political parties participating in the general elections 2021 had accessed the war-chest of Ugx500 million and deployed massively, by now the Declaration of Results (DR) forms from as many polling stations as possible, would be flying around.
To nip this in the bud, the EC decides to delay the disbursement of the funds until after elections, and even then, apply the much-detested formular within the ranks of opposition political parties.
This continued disregard of the law by Electoral Commission to finance political parties is a bright on Uganda’s democratization process. Democracy thrives on functional political parties and for them to be functional, they must be adequately financed.
The President of JEEMA Hon. Asuman Basalirwa, argues that Government’s continued disregard of Section 14(b) is in bad spirit. ACFIM is considering to work with likeminded political parties and likeminded civil society actors to seek legal redress over the matter.