The proposed bill to enable the government to fund political parties should be widely debated, particularly in such forums as television programmes like Insight, Tonight or Issues and Views before it is debated in Parliament because there it is likely to go one way.
Political parties, are normally money-making associations which receive donations from international organsiations, from people who join the party and pay their subscriptions, and from corporations which believe they will benefit from supporting the party, but to have them funded by the state is tantamount to saying no taxpayer should be a political.
Why should the taxpayer subscribe to a political party if he or she doesn’t want to? Isn’t this the same thing as creating a Ministry of Political Affairs to run one party’s affairs using the taxpayer’s money? Another absurd suggestion is that only political parties represented in Parliament will be funded. Why should they when the MPs elected are paid, good salaries for that matter?
While there are now more than 10 political parties in the country the very idea of limiting the funding to parties with more than 15 members in Parliament is also tantamount to approving funding for ZANU-PF until the 1995 general elections. How was the figure of 15 reached? What does it represent?
Theoretically, under our present constitution, anyone can become President provided he or she is over 40 and wins the presidential elections which have nothing to do with general elections.
Once President that person can nominate 30 people into Parliament. Say that President has no party. He wins the presidential elections but another party wins the parliamentary elections. Are we saying this President can form his own party with 30 nominees he is entitled to appoint and then fund that party from the State coffers?
While the idea of funding political parties is sound, it would be better to fund them only for elections and not when they have been elected.
Even then this should be on a dollar-for-dollar basis, that is for every dollar the party raises on its own it is given another by the state. This will purely be to ensure that parties contest the elections fairly and are beaten fairly as well. This should, of course, be accompanied by equal access and equal time in the media, unless the parties are paying for that time.
This too will be a once in five-years event instead of a daily event. Once parties are funded by the state this means goodbye to accountability or consultations with the electorate as there is no incentive. Right now, the parties feel the apathy because when people are dissatisfied they stop paying their subscriptions, boycott rallies etc.
When they have money surely political leaders will only go back to the people when they need their vote and that means once every five years. Is that what the taxpayer should pay for?