Party funding shocks ZCTU


Political parties should not be funded from State coffers because the nation cannot afford it , the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has charged.

Secretary general Cosmas Mukuka has also described as unfortunate the passing of the 50 percent+1 vote clause because it was unfeasible due to regional voting patterns.
The clause allowing Government to fund political parties with representation in Parliament as contained in the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 17 should not have passed because some political parties are irrelevant, he charged.
The Constitution which has been passed provides in article 60 section 4 (a) the establishment and management of a Political Parties Fund to provide financial support to political parties with seat in the National Assembly.
But Mr Mukuka said although the Constitution Amendment Bill was currently in the hands of President Edgar Lungu, it was important to seriously reflect on the clause which allowed the establishment of funds for political parties.
“It is unfortunate that funding of political parties went through because our submission was that unless a political party meets a specified threshold. If you are saying political parties should be funded, under which threshold will be followed?” he said.
Mr Mukuka said the funding for political parties should reach a certain threshold because political parties would be concentrating in one constituency just to be receiving funding from government.
“MPs should have suggested that a political party will be receiving funding when it has more than 10 MPs. That way political parties will be serious and promote proper regulations,” Mr Mukuka said.
He said political parties should be formed to provide checks and balances to the ruling party not merely registering and forming one for the sake of receiving funds.
“The best which the President can do is to probably see how best people can discuss it and provide a serious threshold so that we can have serious political parties who should compete because now every political leader who has no following will be receiving funds,” Mr Mukuka said.
And commenting on the 50 percent+1 vote clause, Mr Mukuka said the possibility of repeating elections in Zambia were quite high.
He said Zambia cannot have one-off session of general elections following the historical background of elections conducted in Zambia. “But now that the 50 percent+1 vote clause has gone through Parliament, we cannot question it very much at this stage because it remains in the hands of the President,” he said.
Mr Mukuka said because the clause had passed in Parliament there was need to start looking at campaigns and ensure that every citizen was educated on his right to vote.
He said if political parties will not campaign adequately ahead of the 2016 general election then it would be an automatic re-run which was a cost to the nation.