Silence as political parties receive another disbursement on public funding
Last week the six political parties that have representation in Parliament, received yet another disbursement of the public funds that are due to them as provided for under section 14 of the Political Parties and Organisations Act, 2005 (as amended).
The beneficiaries include National Resistance Movement (NRM), National Unity Platform (NUP), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC), Democratic Party (DP) and Justice Forum (JEEMA). The lion’s share of this money goes to the ruling NRM party.
And in typical fashion, the Electoral Commission did not issue a press release to disclose to the Ugandan taxpayer that this is done and the recipient political parties are more than happy to keep this information concealed. None of the party leaders is transparent enough to disclose to Ugandans who contribute this money through taxes, how much they have received and what it is going to be used for.
This begs the question: If a political party leader cannot demonstrate the principles of transparency and accountability while still in opposition, will he/she be transparent and accountable when he/she gets into government? The Nigerians have a cliché that if one is a lizard inside the house, he/she cannot be a crocodile in the village which is a bigger space. “Na lizard, na lizardo”.
The lack of transparency and accountability in the management of public funds disbursed to the political parties further raise questions about appropriateness of the current legal framework for public financing of political parties. SecretsKnown has established that the current regulatory framework for Uganda is not adequate to promote transparency and accountability in utilisation of public funds disbursed into political parties.
The secret known is that these funds are the subject on mismanagement and abuse by political party leaders partly because sometimes it comes as arrears and partly because the modalities for accountability are very weak. Sometimes even members of the political party are never informed about the arrival of these funds and thus are disempowered with regard to how much came in and what it was utilized for.
It appears that political party leaders have not appreciated the democratic principle that they do not work for themselves but for the citizens from whom they seek mandate every five years to take over or keep in power. In the same regard, it is contingent upon every political party receiving a share of the national budget to account to the citizens.
Uganda is devoid of political parties that can stand out as islands of integrity. There seems to be no desire to demonstrate that when it comes to managing public funds. All Ugandans have seen is that when it comes to managing public funds, the party in power and the ones in opposition, are one and the same.
The only reason to explain why none of the political parties receiving public funding is able and willing to work in sunlight is because the funds are not utilized for the purpose that it is intended.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has since 2005 not been able to develop regulations that guide which expenses are eligible and which ones are ineligible for financing with public funds. In other electoral jurisdictions, there are clear regulations on how public funds are utilized and accounted for, and the necessary disclosures.