The good news was made public over the weekend. The Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation (MINATD), René Emmanuel Sadi announced on Friday 13 September 2013 that all political parties going in for seats at the upcoming Municipal and Legislative Elections should provide their party accounts for the provision of State funds that would help them finance campaigns for the next two weeks. The sum of FCFA 1.7 billion is said to have been provided for the contending political parties.
Prior to the announcement, there was visible impatience, especially within the opposition parties about the lack of public financing for their activities as required by the law. Section 285 of the Electoral Code states that: "Public funds earmarked for the funding of election campaigns for the election of Members of Parliament, Senators, regional or municipal councillors, shall be shared in 2 (two) equal parts among the political parties taking part in the elections as follows : the first part shall be paid after publication of the lists of candidates to all parties depending on the lists submitted and endorsed in the various constituencies ; the second part shall be paid after the proclamation of results to parties proportionately to the number of seats obtained."
Given that the money is drawn from the Cameroonian tax payer, it would require that those who are beneficiaries should be able to render account on how they spend the funds. With half of the amount being given before the campaigns begin, it also means the political parties may have to dig deep into their own resources to defray their election needs as well.
However, this is simply said than done. Past experiences have shown that most political parties in the country are either not well organised or operate as family estates, with the party leader surrounded primarily by confidents, at times sideling party ideology and common good. Such practices must not only be decried, but need to come under scrutiny, if the country's political landscape has to be cleansed of malpractices.
Of course, the rational thinking ought to be that those who wield public offices either through elections or otherwise must be role models. The recent efforts by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, to ensure that the upcoming elections are free of corruption may have to stretch an eye on State funds that go to finance election campaign as well. This is because some political actors tend to forget that they can be liable to public examinations if the disbursed finances for elections are not well spent.
Although the nature of good practices in terms of expenditure may be fussy, the law however calls for caution. Section 292 of the April 2012 Electoral Code states that; "Any person who, acting on his personal behalf or on behalf of a political party, uses funds received in the context of public funding for purposes other than those provided for under this law shall be liable to the punishment provided for under Section 184 of the Penal Code." Without further comments, this means that those being given public funds for the current elections equally need to think about accountability.