SOME political parties have expressed mixed reactions on the planned introduction of a Political Parties Bill in the next sitting of Parliament.
The objectives of the Bill are to provide for registration and regulation of political parties and the establishment of a political parties fund, among others.
United Party for National Development (UPND) secretary-general Stephen Katuka has another way of looking at the proposed bill: “First fund us as political parties, then you can regulate us.”
Mr Katuka said it is very costly to run a political party, hence the need for Government to fund them.
“We have been in the opposition the last 20 years. It has not been easy for us because we have had to use our own resources to keep going,” Mr Katuka said.
Mr Katuka said it is a constitutional provision for Government to financially support political parties with representation in Parliament.
“I am yet to thoroughly look at this Political Parties Bill but I am aware that it also proposes that we should be funded but up to now, they have not done so.
“Nobody funds us and it is expensive to run a political party. No wonder we are the only party that has survived all these years,” he said.
And Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) national secretary and spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said the Bill will make it mandatory for political parties to adhere to its provisions.
“This is a constitutional requirement and so there is nothing like whether it is welcome or not. We need that Act to operationalise that clause in the constitution,” Mr Mwanza said in an interview.
Mr Mwanza said while some provisions are progressive, FDD does not agree with other clauses like the composition of a board of the political parties.
“Why should it comprise church mother bodies and civil society? Do political parties sit on the boards of church mother bodies? And why should this board be reporting to the President, who is also a politician?” Mr Mwanza questioned.