According to a report on QTV news on Saturday, 11th May 2019, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe Secretary General of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in a consultative meeting with the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) said that Government should create a Democracy Fund from which it will fund some of the activities of political parties.
In the same report it was said that he postulated that government – through the IEC – should not be concerned with where political parties get their funding, or require political parties to reveal their financing.
If this is the context, then on the first point that government should fund the activities of all political parties through a Democracy Fund, I totally agree with him.
This is common in some countries of the world that government funds the activities of political parties. Of course, measures will be taken to ensure that not everyone can jump and form a party with the intention of getting funding. Conditions will be laid down the meeting which will be a prerequisite for accessing those funds.
This has very many benefits as it will ensure that the political arena is opened to all who are desirous of serving the country in government. Otherwise, only the few who have the financial clout or have financial support will seek political office which will leave out a huge chunk of society. This is a form of disenfranchisement.
If, on the other hand, government creates a Democracy Fund in order to assist political parties – of course with safeguards – it will give a new lease of life to multiparty democracy. This will see our nascent democracy grow in leaps and bounds.
On the other point that if the government does not fund political parties then it should not make it compulsory – through the IEC – for parties to disclose their sources of funding, I respectfully disagree.
It is my belief that all political parties should disclose their sources of funding to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) before every electoral cycle. After all, these parties are seeking the mandate of the electorate to control the finances of the entire country.
Thus, it is important that the citizens know exactly where they are getting their funding from. This is important because, who knows, there may be funders who have ulterior motives which may or may not be sinister. This may harm the country in the long run.
It is not farfetched to imagine a terrorist group funding a political party and later – when such a party comes to power – show its true colours which may affect the country adversely. It is therefore necessary to put measures in place which can prevent such an eventuality.
To recapitulate, I wholeheartedly agree that government should fund the activities of political parties but disagree that IEC need not require parties to reveal the sources of their funding if government is not funding them.