DCEO speaks tough against private party funding

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By Mamello Mosaefane

Anti-Corruption’s Director for public education and corruption prevention Litelu Ramokhoro has said consequences of opaque private political parties funding, lead to corruption and abuse of public office.

Speaking at the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations commemoration of NGOs week, Ramokhoro stressed that political parties’ private funding is wrong in many ways.

He said private funding makes the public lose hope in elections’ transparency and fairness, and affects the credibility of politics.

“Chances of politicians serving the interests of funders are higher than those of serving the national interest.

“Funds come as a non-pronounced debt, leading to favoritism in tendering and tenders being discussed at the Prime Minister’s place,” Ramokhoro said.

While Lesotho has embarked on both private and public funding (from Independent Electoral Commission), Ramokhoro said the country’s economy still leads to parties resorting to private funding more, thereby leading to corruption.

Both models of funding are according to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences’ Ramokhoro riddled with shortcomings, with IEC being unable to hold parties accountable for their use of public funds.

He however said private funding would be good, only if there were strong mechanisms to keep the funding process transparent.

Many parties, he said, only target IEC funds and do not aim for anything when it comes to national interests.

He further added that some parties only come back to existence when elections approach and seek for funds, while some fail to account for such funds and even fail to pay their bills.

“Yes, some of these new small parties have interesting principles and manifestos. The problem is that they get less money from IEC and therefore go for private funding to grow their parties.

“These parties, therefore, serve the interests of their funders when they eventually get into power because what IEC provides is not enough,” he said.

Ramokhoro also revealed that “the bigger the parties, the more money it gets and the smaller the party, the less money it gets from IEC”.

“It has therefore become evident that smaller parties cannot fully depend on the public economy for them to grow” he added.

IEC’S Lydia Macheli has on the other hand emphasized IEC cannot give more money to small parties, as the money is calculated based on followership.

Macheli also said it is true that parties do not account for the funds they get from IEC, but they continue getting funds.

She said IEC does not have enforcement power, hence cannot force parties to account for funds they get from IEC.

“It is true that we work with both public and private funding models, but parties do not seem to be having an eye for income generation and growth.

“For as long as I remember, annual membership fee to parties has been 1 Loti,” Macheli said.

Speaking on private funding accountability, Macheli said parties have to disclose their private funders only for an amount more than M200,000.00 to the IEC.

She, therefore, said these calls for amendments of regulations guiding the IEC in the reforms as the current laws open doors for incompetence.