Funding for political parties in Zimbabwe should be strictly monitored to avoid the use of “dirty or bloody” money to finance election campaigns that could result in civil strife as experienced in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Addressing delegates attending a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) organised workshop on promoting transparency in political finance in Harare recently, Deputy Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs Obert Gutu said while there was legislation in place it was hardly being enforced.
The workshop coincided with the launch of findings of a research project titled “Nuru”, a comparative analysis of findings from Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Nuru is Swahili for light.
“Disclosure of sources of funding is critical in curtailing possibilities of having political parties funding violence,” said Gutu.
“Transparency in the political arena is a critical element which needs to be cultivated for the betterment of our country and our future.
“This extends to political funding which plays a fundamental role in facilitating and nurturing political campaigns.
Gutu said politicians should refrain from acquiring funds from sources that were potentially manipulative as that might lead to the abandonment of core values pertaining to the interests of the nation.
“In other words, there are funders who may influence the politicians to push their own political agendas at the expense of interests of ordinary citizens who would have elected them into office,” said Gutu.
He said transparency would assist in creating and promoting political independence, integrity, objectivity and efficiency in discharging their mandates when the politicians are eventually elected into power.
The deputy minister said that the quality of government would be compromised when decisions made by the elected politicians benefited those who funded their ascent to power and not the broader public interest.
“The history of political finance has shown that public trust in democratic institutions has been eroded as scandal after scandal has revealed politicians sharing in the spoils of power with their financial backers,” said Gutu.
“If governments and political parties are to command respect and restore public confidence in their institutions, they need to employ the principle of transparency in all their areas of operation including political finance.”
Research findings of the project that was conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Trust indicate that funds disbursed to political parties were not adequately accounted for.