Political parties must account for public money

21 January 2020 | Opinion

Namibian political parties continue to rake in millions of dollars from the National Assembly due to their representation in that house.

In fact, those represented in the National Council make a killing in terms of revenue from the state. In the 2015/16 financial year, for example, Swapo alone received N$96 million for its 101 seats in both houses of parliament. The official opposition, PDM, received N$5.7 million that year. In total, N$116 million was paid out to political parties. In principle, this money is meant for the general administration of these parties insofar as their work in the legislature is concerned. What is shocking, however, is that parties are not obliged to account for the money they receive. For a long time, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been calling for a law that compels parties to produce audited reports annually in which they lay bare every transaction that involved state funding. While other recipients of state funding are hauled before standing committees to account every cent, political parties are in wonderland. The irony of this is that parliamentarians are the architects of laws on accountability, but as always, politicians seem to create such legislation for everyone but themselves. We have no recollection of audited reports ever being tabled in parliament on behalf of any political party. And despite loud cries to have this rectified, our legislators seem hell-bent on ensuring that the deep-seated unaccountability continues unabated. Politicians live by the rule of man while the rest of us must observe the rule of law. Indeed, our politicians are cut from a rare fabric of superiority.

They are fast to change even the constitution, like they did in 2014, to create a bigger space around the dinner table that is parliament, but once their stomachs are full, as expected, they slip into a state of laziness. Or how else are we meant to interpret their reluctance to ensure the funds they receive from the taxpayer are accounted for?

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