Friday 18 June 2021
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Political parties refuse to disclose funders

Even though political parties have been preaching transparency, they remain unwilling to declare their funders to the electorate, adamant in their claim that their donors are not for public knowledge.
The Patriot asked several political parties on party funding and asked who their funders are and if they were willing to disclose their ‘blessers’.
Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa was one of the politicians who refused to reveal their parties’ funders saying “who told you that we get funds (a part from Parliament)? If there is something like that, maybe it’s coming.”
While Popular for Democratic Movement (PDM) Treasurer-General, Nico Smit said his party’s donors are not for public knowledge.
“We are obliged to declare external contribution when it exceeds N$4 million and internal when it exceeds N$2 million per year. We are not there. Our donors and the amounts we receive from them are only for the attention of management. Donations are project orientated and we account to donors individually.
“As you know that donors are very sensitive and have to protect their identity and amount. If it becomes public information, then one will not receive a single cent,” he said.
Although Smit refused to disclose the names of his party funders, The Patriot is reliably informed that since 2015 PDM has been receiving funds from German political party funding Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) as the organization pays some of the party’s employees.
The Patriot also understands Smit who is a real estate developer was one of the people who donated money to bankroll PDM election campaign in 2014.
At the time Smit is alleged to have donated around N$1,5 million to the party. Asked about his donation and KAS funding, Smit responded “no comment.”
Meanwhile, secretary-general of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Mike Kavekotora confirmed that his party received financial support, but refused to name the names of the funders saying that it is not relevant.
He further stated that this year RDP approached potential donors but they have declined to fund the former official opposition party, citing economic hardship.
“We have received funds before, but I am not going to mention the donors nor the amount they had donated. It’s not relevant and there is not law that requires us to declare the donations,” he said.
All People’s Party (APP) vice president Mandela Nauyoma said his party doesn’t have donors.
Nauyoma was quoted by the Namibian Sun in 2014 as saying that businessmen who pump money into Swapo but not doing the same to opposition parties are promoting dictatorship.
Section 141 of the Electoral Act of 2014 states that any donation is disclosed in the prescribed manner and the total donation amount that the registered political party, registered organisation, member or person can receive may not exceed a prescribed amount in a financial year.
Namibia is one of very few democracies in the world that does not regulate the private funding of political parties. Most countries including Namibia’s closest neighbour South Africa have laws that encourage parties to disclose who funds them.
Critics believed that the anonymity of private funders open doors for corruption, therefore citizens need to know who pays the bills.
In January this year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signed Political Party Funding Bill into law which aims to mitigate shady financial undertakings and conflicts of interests within the political sphere.
The law aims to ensure that party may not accept a donation “that it knows or ought reasonably to have known, or suspected, originates from the proceeds of crime and must report that knowledge or suspicion to the [Electoral] Commission”.
It also states that “no person or entity may deliver a donation to a member of a political party other than for party political purposes” and a member of a political party may only receive such a donation “on behalf of the party”.
It is believed that transparent governance and multiparty democracy depend on knowing where donations come from.
That is because private contributions to a political party are made in anticipation that the party will advance a particular social interest or policy.
A public armed with information about who is providing candidates with the most support are in a much better position to detect any post-election special favours they may be given in return.

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