The Electoral Commission of Namibia, ECN says political parties in parliament are still failing to account for money allocated to them by the state.

Parliamentarian Inna Hengari is calling on the ECN to be firmer as she claims some parties are using these funds to dish out cash loans.

The Electoral Commission presented challenges and success stories to members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Legal Affairs at Swakopmund.

The Chief Electoral Officer Theo Mujoro stressed that political parties in parliament have a legal obligation to submit their audited financial statements but the majority do not.

"You see as the commission we are also failing because the ECN prescribes punitive measures in terms of action, the commission must take in cases of non-compliance and some of these actions are what we call the nuclear option, in fact, the commission can de-register a political party because of these issues of non-compliance but of course knowing the extreme implications of that, the commission has tried, you know we have tried the best we can to really engage parties on this issue multiple times, we have given deadlines but this thing continues to be a big problem." 

"Some political parties that I know have actually turned these monies that they get from the state into cash loans, I do believe you can go beyond having conversations in workshops, you must put strict mechanisms in place to ensure that the money is accounted for and it's transparent in the spending of political party funding," said Member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, Inna Hengari.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee Member on Legal Affairs Apius |Auchab questioned whether ECN is only concerned about the parties, further adding, what about the independent candidates that are also getting money from the same source? To whom do they account, these people are not accounting."

"When this act was drafted back in 2014, we did not, they did not provide for that. So this is part of the amendments we are proposing that independent candidates will now also fall within the same sections as political parties," said ECN Legal Advisor Advocate Heidi Jacobs. 

The ECN's Legal Advisor added that the electoral act clearly states the purpose for the parties may not use the funds and cash loans are on that list.

The government has allocated about N$149 million to political parties in Parliament for the current financial year.

Less than half of the 23 parties in parliament submitted their financial statements to ECN last year. 

Those that have failed to comply with the law can be de-registered but Mujoro plans to have one-on-one sessions next week before taking drastic measures.

Photo Credits
New Era Newspaper


Renate Rengura