It is now clear that the NRM Government set a trap to opposition parties on promising to fund them. Whatever the formula to use and whether it is acceptable to opposition, the opposition parties should have declined this offer. The NRM conference that ended recently is an eye opener. Hon. Mbabazi the Party Secretary General said he had budgeted for 8,000 delegates, and over 25,000 attended; more than 3 times the original number anticipated! It is unbelievable that about 17,000 delegates were allowed to attend the conference. Whether this is desperateness of the NRM, only God knows. And for delegates to have been entitled to shs 250,000 as alleged in the press is another issue which is hard to believe given the numbers! At 250,000/- the 8,000 delegates would have cost the party shs 2bn, but the 17,000 additional delegates mean additional expenditure of shs 4.25bn! Now where do other parties benefit? And if the NRM does not spend tax payer money, what is the source of this money?
The political parties now want to be funded by the Ugandan taxpayer. "Because of the unfair means by which the Movement (NRM) political party was established, it is important that other parties be funded too. I say unfair because the Movement, which is now a party, was able to run using state resources. It is still doing so. For example, it employs Resident District Commissioners (RDCs). The role RDCs play is political in nature yet in the multiparty dispensation, the RDCs should be akin to traditional District Commissioners (DCs), who should be non-partisan," Ogwal explains.
Political Parties Discuss Party Funding Bill
Do 17. Juli 2008
Hotel Africana, Kamapala
At the interparty dialogue on the party funding bill held on Thursday, July 18, 2008, all major party leaders agreed and indeed welcomed the idea of the use of government or public resources to fund political parties. They all however contested the proposed funding criteria where the bill proposes to allocate funds according to the numerical strength of parties in parliament. Whereas participants in some instances presented diverging views on the criteria to be used in allocating public resources to political parties, all of them agreed on the need to consider basic issues of equity, legitimacy, transparency and accountability in the allocation and use of public funds for political parties.
The dialogue was organised by the Foundation for African Development (FAD) with the support of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) whose support according to Mr. Peter Girke was in line with the foundation’s goal of promoting political pluralism as a cornerstone for consolidating democracy. The topic of discussion was the Party Funding Bill that was tabled in Parliament by government in April 2008. Through the Party Funding Bill (2008), the Government of Uganda is proposing to amend the Political Parties and Organisations Act (2005) “to provide for the use of government or public resources for political party or organization activities”.
While opening the dialogue, Germany Ambassador H.E Reinhard Buchholz emphasized the role of political parties in promoting democracy for which reason he said public funding of parties is highly welcome. According to the Ambassador, funding political parties will propel them towards more independence from private and individual interests which in turn strengthens the parties and political pluralism, and promotes democracy. KAS Country Representative Mr. Peter Girke pointed out that public funding is one of the major ways through which political parties access resources to carry out various activities. He reflected on the Germany situation where parties receive a significant percentage of their funding from public resources. Mr. Girke however encouraged Ugandan parties to consider and tap other sources of funding particularly membership fees and possibly donations.
Participation in the dialogue was through delegations from the major political parties that included: Democratic Party (DP) led by Mr. Sebana Kizito (Party President); Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) led by Dr. Kizza Besigye (Party President); Justice Forum (JEEMA) led by Mr. Kibirige Mayanja (Party President); Conservative Party (CP) led by Hon. John Ken Lukyamuzi (Party President); Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) led by Mr. Chris Opoka (Assistant General Secretary); People’s Progressive Party (PPP) led by Dr. Dick Odur and People’s Development Party (PDP) led by Mrs. Winnie Kabesigye. The Ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) was represented by Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi a member of the party’s National Executive Committee and State Minister for Education and Sports. The dialogue was chaired by Hon. Ogenga Latigo, Leader of Opposition in Parliament. Mr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere made the lead presentation.