Leading Zimbabwe poll watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called for a legal framework to guide political financing highlighting the prevalence of vote buying and abuse of state resources in the past elections to enhance public confidence in political parties.
In its position paper on political finance, ZESN highlighted the growing influence of money and corruption in the political system.
“Such a framework would provide a basis for controlling the growing influence of money in politics, as well as curbing the potential for corruption in the political system.
“A regulatory framework for campaign finance would allow authorities to effectively monitor the existing provisions that prohibit foreign funding of political parties as well as the spending limit for political parties currently set at 500 000 USD,” noted ZESN.
The organisation further called for effective monitoring of expenditure by candidates and political parties during elections with an oversight to be assigned to a government body such as the Ministry of Justice or ZEC.
“For this monitoring to be effective, periodic reporting of expenditures by candidates and parties during the election period would need to be introduced with oversight responsibilities assigned to a government body such as the ZEC.
“Further provisions to limit campaign finance could also be considered, including limits on individual contribution that can be made to candidates and parties. These contributions, at least over a certain threshold, should also be reported by candidates and political parties on a periodic basis,” added ZESN.
The elections watchdog added that a legal framework would also be key in defining permissible behaviour amid concerns that the ruling party has been abusing state resources in its campaigns.
“A system of public disclosure of political contributions would shine light on where the money in political parties comes from and could enhance public confidence in the political system especially if authorities are seen to enforce requirements for reporting and disclosure.
“Given the prevalence of misuse of state resources and vote buying in elections, as reported by observer groups, it would also be useful to consider adopting provisions that clearly define what behaviour is permitted and prohibited during election period,” added ZESN.
Political party funding has been a topical issue in the country for a long time with both the ruling party and opposition throwing counter accusations of abusing state resources and receiving funding from western countries deemed ‘hostile’ to the establishment.