Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, has advised Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament to exercise caution when drafting laws governing campaign financing.
Mpuuga advised members of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago’s joint select committee that is reviewing The Representation of the People [Amendment] [No.2] Bill 2020 to draft a law that establishes an independent entity to handle political party financing.
“In setting up a political parties public funding mechanism, the legal drafters must think very carefully about the choice of the institution or authority given for administration. It should not be like our Electoral Commission which is grossly partisan,” Mpuuga said.
His address to the MPs of the dual island Caribbean nation via zoom, a video conferencing service, on Monday, June 27, 2022, is part of a peer-to-peer exchange program supported by the International Republic Institute (IRI), an organization funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The draft law seeks to expand the functions of Trinidad and Tobago’s Elections and Boundaries Commission in addition to providing a legal framework for campaign financing, money laundering, and corruption.
According to Mpuuga, such a body must act independently of the government.
“The reliance on a partisan appointed electoral commission to be the administrator of the political parties and organisations’ public funding [in Uganda] failed the neutrality test,” Mpuuga said, adding that, “At the core of justification for political parties public financing under a multiparty dispensation is the desire to deepen democracy in a country.”
He criticized the 2008 amendments to Uganda’s Political Parties and Organizations Act, particularly sections 9 and 12, which he claimed were intended to limit opposition party funding from private and foreign sources.
“It came as a half hearted justification for the state to clamp down on foreign donations,” he said.
While the law allows the government to fund all registered political parties or organizations for elections and day-to-day operations, he claims it is being used to suffocate political opposition.
“The NRM government introduced the amendment with a different ideological target from the other opposition parties. It has never been in the wish list for the ruling party to strengthen multiparty democracy in Uganda,” Mpuuga said.
“As of today, no opposition political party activity can take place outside the walls of the party headquarters or within the precincts of the Parliament Building,” he added.
He also accused the government of using the funding as a bait to bring parties around the table in order to cover up on its excesses such as human rights abuses.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.
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