Anti-Voter Apathy (AVAP) executive director Richwell Mulwani says government should look at modalities to start funding existing political parties that take part in elections, instead of killing democracy by deregistering them.
And Mulwani in an interview said it was worrying to see political parties being deregistered for failure to remit annual fees.
Meanwhile, Mulwani said existing political parties must always prove their relevance by participating in the electoral process.
“We need to look at the capacity of these political parties so that they can be funded because funding of these political parties is very critical. It is important that government starts looking at modalities under which political parties can be funded so that they can manage their administrations and inspire many people to join them and run programs,” Mulwani said.
He said the deregistration of political parties compromises democracy of the country.
“It’s a sad development to us as AVAP because we believe that political parties play a critical role in ensuring that they provide checks and balances and also they become potential institutions to run government. So when we see political parties being deregistered, to us it gives us worries because we are looking at how democracy can be compromised or how democracy can lose shape, how multi-partyism can shrink,” he said.
“But we know that political parties also have got challenges and some of them are failing to remit annual returns because when you are registered, you need to follow the law. Law abidance is very critical for any society or any democracy. So when a political party fails to remit annual returns, the question is, does that political party have members? Where are the members for them not to be able to raise annual fees? And when they fail to remit, definitely the Register of Societies has a responsibility to deregister them.”
Meanwhile, Mulwani said political parties needed to prove their relevancy by contesting elections even at ward level.
“And these political parties need to participate in the electoral process so that their relevance is proved by the people on the ground because the common scenario is that they tend just t endorse candidates when they themselves fail to contest elections. So our advice to these other political parties that are registered but still fail to contest elections is that, they should form a coalition so that they are able to form one name and start contesting elections so that their members can see the importance of contesting elections. We want them to show their relevance in 2021 through the electoral process,” he demanded.
And Mulwani advised the 12 deregistered political parties to go flat-out and inform their members about the development to allow them to move on.
“And it is also important that these political parties have feasible structures. They must be seen that they do exist at ward level, constituency level, district level, and even at the provincial level. Normally when you want to see some of these political parties in these provinces or districts, they are not there. What we are told is that only a person is operating in a market place as an office. Let them come up with structures. And when a decision is made at the national level [like to deregister a political party] you find that the grassroots are not aware that such a political party is no longer in existence. So the 12 deregistered political parties should go and explain to their people that they no longer exist as a party so that their members can make a decision on which political party to join,” said Mulwani.