Saturday, December 3, 2022

Five percent popular vote or no funding

Although they are expected to push a bill on public funding for political parties, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) does not believe that parties that have less than 5 percent of the popular vote and no representative in government should be allocated funds.

The party has publicly disclosed that they prefer the Lesotho model for public funding of political parties. According to the BCP, in Lesotho, half of the fund is handed equally to all deserving for administrative purposes while the other half will be disbursed to political parties during an election year, according to the number of candidates the party is fielding.

“If you don’t have 5 percent of the popular vote, who then do you represent? Our main intention is not to create employment but to enrich the state of political parties in our country,” BCP MP Bagalatia Arone said last week while briefing members of the press about a bill on political party funding, which his party intends to bring to parliament.

Arone said that, of late regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have called for governments to fund political parties to enhance democracy.

He said that in Botswana, the corruption watchdog, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) have also echoed the same sentiments.
Arone said that the BCP’s proposed bill would ensure that party funding in Botswana is regulated. He said that the proposed bill would ensure that foreign companies are given a limit on how much they can contribute as assistance extended to political parties. This, he said, would limit the influence of foreign companies on the parties they have funded.

Last year the BCP was a beneficiary of Kgalagadi Breweries donation to political parties. It received P300 000 from Kgalagadi Breweries, while the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) got 1 million, with the Botswana National Front receiving P500 000.

The KBL model was such that the party with the highest percentage received the larger portion of the fund. Arone said that they do not advocate for the KBL model because the party with the higher percentage takes a larger share therefore diluting the argument of leveling the playing field. Arone stated that the funding should be provided for through the normal government budgetary process.

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