Source: The National, Thursday August 29th, 2013
Twenty-three Members of Parliament are walking the tightrope over unanswered questions about election funding during the 2012 general elections.
The 23, a motley crew of senior ministers, governors and ordinary MPs, will be referred to the Ombudsman Commission next Monday by the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties.
Registrar Alphonse Gelu did not reveal names of the MPs but told reporters yesterday that the leaders had failed to reveal their campaign finances and that amounted to misconduct in office for which they could be dismissed.
This is the first time since its inception in 2001 that section 89 of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates has been evoked, the office having failed to have done so in the 2002 and 2007 elections.
Repeated attempts by the registry to get MPs to comply since Aug 2012 have fallen on deaf ears, with only 25 doing so by Nov 2012, and the majority doing so this year, Gelu said.
The registry wrote to the 23 MPs last month, reminding them of the need to comply with laws, however, did not receive any positive response and was left with no choice but to make the referral.
These 23 MPs now owe more than K500, 000 to the government backdated to February this year, from a K2, 000 fine and K20 daily fine after that.
“Under the Organic Law (Section 89), it’s a misconduct in office,” Gelu said.
“The most-severe one would be losing your seat in parliament, it’s simple as that.
“The most-lenient cases would be fines on MPs.
“It will be the Ombudsman Commission that will decide on that.”
Gelu said the need for compliance to Section 89 was to make the issue of campaign finances open and transparent.
“As per the Organic Law, the successful candidates need to inform this office on their election expenses, mainly on how they have raised their campaign finances and how they have spent these funds,” he said.
“These are part of what we call ‘campaign finances’ and in democracies, the successful candidates and the political parties have to publicly reveal their sources of funding.
“In politics, money does play a huge contribution in determining outcomes, especially during the elections.
“It is therefore a requirement in our laws that the public must know where the parties and the candidates are receiving their funds from.
“Hence, the source of funding must be made public in order to avoid any suspicions on how the executive government is making its decisions, especially in areas of project implementation and procurement.”
Gelu said the registry had been so lenient on MPs for the last 12 months but enough was enough.
“This is the first time that this has been enforced and we’re trying to give them time, but to me, one year is too long,” he said.