Green Party seeks poll re­forms

The East African - - NEWS - By ROBERT MBARAGA Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent

RWANDA DEMO­CRATIC Green Party (DGPR), the coun­try’s main op­po­si­tion party, plans to chal­lenge sec­tions of the elec­toral law that re­strict po­lit­i­cal par­ties from ac­cept­ing for­eign do­na­tions, ahead of the Septem­ber 2018 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

Party leader Frank Habineza said his party is work­ing on a doc­u­ment that details short­com­ings caused by elec­toral le­gal norms.

“We are con­cerned that we con­tinue to have a law pro­hibit­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties from so­lic­it­ing funds from NGOS, church or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­ter­na­tional donors,” said Mr Habineza.

The 2013 law gov­ern­ing po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions and politi­cians pro­hibits po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions from ac­cept­ing do­na­tions and be­quests from for­eign­ers, for­eign busi­ness com­pa­nies, in­dus­tries and or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved in other ac­tiv­i­ties or in which for­eign­ers are share­hold­ers. The coun­try’s lead­er­ship ar­gues that such do­na­tions and be­quests are likely to un­der­mine the in­de­pen­dence and in­tegrity of the coun­try.

Tech­ni­cally, po­lit­i­cal par­ties can only raise funds from their sup­port­ers, lo­cal donors and the gov­ern­ment.

The law fur­ther re­quires po­lit­i­cal par­ties to de­clare in writ­ing to the Rwanda Gov­er­nance Board, which is in charge of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, all do­na­tions and be­quests re­ceived that have a value start­ing from Rwf1 mil­lion ($1,180) with a copy to the of­fice of the Om­buds­man.

“This is a se­ri­ous lim­i­ta­tion be­cause many po­ten­tial donors shy away from giv­ing us money since they know we are sup­posed to de­clare it, in­di­cat­ing the donor, the type and value of do­na­tions,” said Mr Habineza.

An­other chal­lenge, ac­cord­ing to the Green Party is that a party can only get gov­ern­ment fund­ing af­ter elec­tions and if they score at least five per cent of the vote. The party says this is un­fair and only favours larger par­ties in­clud­ing the rul­ing party.

Mr Habineza sug­gests that par­ties wish­ing to par­tic­i­pate in an elec­tion be given fund­ing be­fore­hand.

In Tan­za­nia, par­ties are not barred from rais­ing funds us­ing NGOS and re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tion. They can equally re­ceive do­na­tions from for­eign or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als, which must be dis­closed.

In Uganda, par­ties are not al­lowed to re­ceive di­rect cash fund­ing from for­eign­ers and for­eign or­gan­i­sa­tion, but they can help par­ties or­gan­ise train­ings and ca­pac­ity build­ing ef­forts.

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Charles Mpagi and Christo­pher Kidanka

Pic­ture: File

Frank Habineza, Demo­cratic Green Party leader.

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