A BRIEFING paper by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has lifted the veil on a lack of regulation on political party funding a mere fortnight before the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections are scheduled to take place.
In its paper titled, “Namibian Political Finance – An unresolved regulatory question,” the institute questioned the effectiveness of the ECN in bringing political parties to book.
IPPR stated that 5 years after the Electoral Act of 2014, political parties are yet to fully implement the regulations pertaining to the declaration of assets and liabilities of political parties and the disclosure of foreign and domestic financing of political parties.
The sources of political party funding vary across the globe.
In Namibia, political parties already represented in the National Assembly receive state funding proportional to the seats they hold. Effectively, this means that the ruling Swapo Party has received the bulk of state funding since independence in 1990.
The IPPR further publicised the state of political finance in the country, especially as the national and presidential elections draw closer, stating that political parties are heavily reliant on state funding.
The institute stated that over a 15-year period from 2000 through to 2014, the stated disbursed an estimated N$282 million amongst the ruling Swapo party and the various other official opposition parties (DTA, CoD and RDP).
Majority of these funds, roughly 83%, flow to the ruling party.
From 2000 to 2004, the ruling party received N$61 million and the DTA and CoD each received N$7,7 million.
From the years 2010 to 2014, the cash flow from tax payers pockets towards political funding once again increased for the ruling party, as it received N$104 million, while the DTA received N$3,9 million, CoD N$1,9 million fand the RDP, at the time the official opposition, received N$ 15,5 million.
Following the expansion of parliament with the third constitutional amendment of 2014 in the 2015/16 financial year, the IPPR notes that N$116 million was allocated for disbursement amongst political parties in parliament.
This represented an almost 600% jump in annual spending on political parties compared to the average of the preceding 15 years.
The IPPR noted that the escalation in spending was so considerate that the ruling party’s allocation for the year 2015/16 financial year alone was greater than the amount of funding all other parties have received over the last years combined from 2004 to 2014.
During these allocations, Swapo received N$96 million, while DTA, now known as PDM, received N$5,7 million as the official opposition party.
RDP received N$2,8 million.
“The rough estimate of N$166 million allocated to political parties in 2015/16 was a onetime windfall and marked a high point in political funding in Namibia. During the 2016/17 financial year, Namibia entered a recessionary climate that has persisted to late 2019, without clear end in sight at the time of the report. Recessionary pressures have meant that the ruling political party funding by state, disbursed through the National Assembly, has also stagnated and declined since 2016/17,” the IPPR noted.
The institute further stated that with the figures presented, it is important not only how political parties have spent their funding, but also the level of accountability that has been displayed regarding this spending.
The IPPR noted that it is up to voters to bring politicians to account on how they spend these funds.