N$450m party funding unaudited

Political parties remain unaccountable to anyone regarding their use of public funds.

22 January 2020 | Politics

OGONE TLHAGE







Auditor-General Junias Kandjeke says there is no law authorising him to scrutinise how the eight political parties represented in parliament utilised the N$449 million they collectively received between 2015 and this year.

According to ministry of finance spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu, treasury has paid over N$112 million in the 2017/18 fiscal year to the National Assembly to disburse to political parties represented in parliament, N$112 million in the 2018/19 fiscal year and N$116 million in the 2019/20 fiscal year. The Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) last year revealed that political parties received N$109 million from parliament in 2015/16.

Swapo has always received the lion’s share of funding, given the party’s large representation in parliament.

The party received N$61 million from 2000 to 2004, N$68 million from 2005 to 2009 and N$104.6 million from 2010 to 2014 – a combined figure of N$233.6 million, according to the IPPR.

This is in stark contrast to the then Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), Congress of Democrats (CoD) and Rally for Democracy and Progress. The DTA received N$60.6 million over the 14-year period, the CoD N$15.8 million and the RDP N$15.5 million from 2009 to 2014, IPPR figures showed.

The IPPR report also shows that parties got N$958 000 per annum per seat won in the National Assembly and National Council. This would mean that losing 14 seats in last year’s National Assembly election will cost Swapo N$13 million, while the DTA, now known as the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), will get a boost of N$15 million for winning 16 seats when the new parliament is sworn in.

The amounts given to political parties could increase or decrease as a result of the outcome of the regional and local authority elections slated for November.

Kandjeke said despite the huge outflow of public funds from treasury to political parties, he was limited in terms of his auditing functions.

“The Office of the Auditor General is not mandated by legislation to audit political parties. Unless the political parties themselves provide the books to audit, our mandate is based on the law. We do not audit political parties; we stop at the institution which is availing the funds to the political parties. Our mandate stops there,” Kandjeke said.

According to him, his office did not want to prescribe to policy makers what should be done.

“We still do not have a mandate. We do not want to interfere in policy-making. In my personal capacity, as a tax payer, I want someone to account for that money if it is public money. In terms of governance, public funds should be audited,” Kandjeke said.

Section 158 of the Electoral Act (Act Number 5 of 2015) makes provision for political parties represented in the national assembly to account for funds received from treasury taken out of the fiscal budget. Each year, all political parties represented in parliament [National Assembly and the National Council] receive funding in proportional representation provided for in the Constitution.

To put this into context, political parties got N$958 000 for every national assembly or national council seat they won in either the national elections or by-elections held to choose law-makers in the 2015/2016 fiscal year.

Republican Party president Henk Mudge said he was open to the idea of having party funds scrutinised by the Auditor General.

“I do not have a problem with the Auditor General auditing our books. We get so little money that it will be easy to audit the funds that we receive,” Mudge said.

He anticipated that his party would table their financial statement in the National Assembly by February when parliament is expected to open and that they were up to date.

Mudge’s Republican Party and the Workers Revolutionary Party had fallen by the wayside in terms of regularly submitting audit reports to the National Assembly for three consecutive years, New Era reported in 2018. Swapo was the only political party that was able to submit all of its audit reports.

“We are submitting our report from our own auditors in the National Assembly in February,” Mudge said.

Popular Democratic Movement secretary for treasury Nico Smit said his party was open to being audited by the Auditor General. His party had also made regular submissions to the National Assembly on the usage of the funds it received from treasury.

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