Cape Verde provides hope for campaign finance regulations in Africa
Cape Verde is considered to be one of the few countries in Africa where democracy is functional. In October 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10-island archipelago held its seventh successful elections after embracing multi-party democracy in 1991.
The 2021 elections were won by opposition candidate José Maria Neves of the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), who defeated Carlos Veiga of Movement for Democracy (MpD). Both the leading candidates were former prime ministers in an election that attracted seven candidates.
Democracy analysts have hailed Cape Verde for not only having regular elections like most African countries, but elections regarded as free and fair by standards. Secrets Known has established what makes Cape Verde a success story in a continent where electoral authoritarianism is in abundance. The island country which runs a semi-parliamentary system has safeguards in its electoral law on campaign financing.
The Electoral Law (as amended) 2010, provides for election campaign financing under section IV. Article 122 provides for candidates and political parties operating a separate account for campaign funds not to mix campaign money with personal money.
Article 123 compels a candidate or political party to designate an electoral administrator responsible for collecting funds and accounting for campaign resources. It is the electoral administrator that files election accounts. The law further provides for state funding of political parties on the basis of numerical advantage in parliament, and sets spending limits of not more than 80% of public funding on electoral expenses.
The penalty for failure to account for electoral funds to the National Election Commission (NEC) attracts a suspension from public funding. The electoral accounts of candidates and political parties are accessible to the public for purposes of transparency and accountability. The National Election Commission is the independent electoral management body that is responsible for elections and enjoys financial autonomy.
The campaign financing provisions in Cape Verde have helped entrench a culture of transparency, openness and accountability in the electoral processes, which is key for electoral integrity. Although incidents of vote buying were reported during the 2021 elections, democracy analysts argued that the economic vulnerability and the COVID restrictions played a big part in escalating the electoral malpractice.
By and large, Cape Verde has been hailed to have cleaner electoral politics compared to majority of the African countries. This record can’t be a coincidence. Regulating money in electoral politics has played a significant role. The success story of Cape Verde should inspire other African countries to enact and enforce laws on campaign financing