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Enact law that compels parties to reveal campaign finance – EU

By ADRIAN MWANZA

GOVERNMENT should enact a law that compels political parties to disclose their sources of funding in a bid to curb individuals from using corruptly obtained funds, the European Union has observed.

According to the EU final report on the August 12 General Elections they recommended that there was need to put in place a law on campaign finance and timely disclosure before and after elections.

EU Chief Observer Maria Arena said income and expenditure needed to be audited by a competent, independent body with investigative, sanctioning and enforcement powers.

Ms Arena observed that there were few scattered rules that required candidates to declare assets and liabilities to contest elections however there was need to ban the use of corruptly acquired funds for party and electoral purposes.

“Candidates must submit to the ECZ details of their assets and liabilities with nominations, but this requirement is not backed by a clear mandate for public access, auditing or investigation,” the report said.

Ms Arena also indicated that an absence of robust regulation, compounded by a lack of transparency and accountability, undermined the voter’s right to make an informed choice. 

She said there was need to decriminalise the defamation of the president as it is viewed by many stakeholders as outdated and provides legal ground for silencing critical voices.

Ms Arena said the EU recommended that there was need to protect the freedom of expression by repealing the powers of the president to ban publications and by decriminalising defamation in favour of proportionate civil sanctions.

She also indicated that there was need to enact a law that would compel political parties to disclose their campaign finance including reporting requirements for political parties, candidates.

Ms Arena also praised the previous government for deploying the Zambia Defence Force to beef up police capacity in response to political violence in Lusaka.

“This exceptional security measure during the elections lacked of public information on military deployment and increased uncertainties among the populations with soldiers, in some cases equipped with heavy weaponry, present in different parts of the country. However the military remained neutral and several opposition including President Hakainde Hichilema positively assessed the army,” the report indicated.

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