Political parties are not forthcoming to account for public money received through public funding, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has revealed.
The majority of political parties represented in the legislature failed to account for the N$178 million given to them through party funding.
In accordance with the obligations placed on all political parties in the Electoral Act 5 of 2014, Section 158, political parties must account for funds received, by preparing statements within two months after the end of a financial year. This basically means each party should by now have accounted twice to parliament- once in 2016 for the 2015/16 financial years and another in 2017 for the 2016/17 financial year.
The amount given to political parties during that period is enough to build a school costing N$12 million in each of the country’s 14 regions.
But despite the failure of some parties to account, money from public coffers continue to flow into party accounts.
This includes the ruling Swapo Party which got the biggest chunk of the N$178 million given to political parties between 2015 and 2017. Only two parties accounted to the National Assembly while the ECN indicated that parties are not forthcoming with their financials.
So far, only Popular Democratic Movement and United People’s Movement fulfilled their obligation. This was confirmed by the National Assembly’s permanent secretary Lydia Kandetu.
She said the political parties have not submitted their audited statements to the National Assembly as per the Legislative requirement.
The Patriot has been provided with information regarding the funding allocation to each of the 10 parties represented in the National Assembly.
The secretariat head did give a disclaimer regarding the Workers’ Revolutionary Party though.
“WRP only received their Political party funding, for 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years during 2017 and thus the answers given above does not include them,” she clarified.
The party was involved in a leadership wrangle which led to parliament deciding to withhold its funding.
When questioned what the National Assembly secretariat has done to ensure that parties comply, Kandetu responded: “The Secretariat only has the powers given to it in terms of the Electoral Act and thus cannot acquire more power than given.”
Swapo received close to N$140 million of the funds given to political parties between 2015 and 2017.
During the 2015/16 financial year, the parties received a combined N$98.6 million. That amount per seat dropped during the 2016/17 financial year which subsequently lowered the annual figure for that period to N$79.9 million.
There have been calls demanding that funding to political parties that do not account for public funds must be cut. Kandetu said her office has not received such a proposal.
ECN’s Director of Operations Theo Mujoro said the commission has undertaken a targeted sensitization campaign to inform and educate its various stakeholders about new provisions, requirements and obligations of the said Act. The Electoral Act, Act No 5 of 2014 came into operation around October 2014 – barely a month before the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held.
“All political parties were informed on numerous occasions about Section 158 and its implications, including as recently as November 2017 during a Strategic Plan consultative session. It is clear that most political parties have not been forthcoming concerning this issue,” Mujoro said.
He said ECN will be meeting with Secretary Generals of all political parties in due course to discuss amongst other issues, Section 158 of the Electoral Act.
Meanwhile, Public Account Committee chairperson Mike Kavekotora said the committee is yet to look into the matter.
“Not that it is not important, the ECN is in charge to demand financials from the parties and once they are not happy then they can approach us to step in,” said Kavekotora.
The Patriot contacted the parties which, according to the secretariat, did not submit their financials as required by the law.
Interestingly, SWANU president Tangeni Iijambo said “we are among the first parties to submit.”
Rally for Democracy and Progress secretary general Mike Kavekotora said “we are in the process of submitting, our accounts have been sent to the auditors.”
NUDO secretary general Meundju Jahanika said the party already submitted its financials to the Electoral Commission of Namibia. Former Swapo Party secretary general Nangolo Mbumba, who has since been appointed as the country’s vice president refused to comment on the matter.
“Please call Swapo, I am no longer the SG,” said Mbumba despite the fact that he was in charge of the party’s administration affairs during the period under review.
United Democratic Front secretary general Elijah Gawaseb said “we are in the process of submitting however we are waiting for ECN to revert back to us with regards to some of the laws that are not clear to us before we submit.”
A decision to move towards greater public funding has big risks, especially when parties are not accountable.