8 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF, MDC-T to Share U.S.$3 Million

Zanu-PF and MDC-T will share US$3 million under the Political Parties (Finance) Act as allocated by Treasury for 2014. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated US$3 million in the 2014 National Budget proposals for parties with at least five percent of the vote in the preceding election, a rise from US$2,5 million that was given in 2013 National Budget.

MDC, led by Professor Welshman Ncube, which benefited from the money over the last two parliaments misses out this time as it failed to secure the threshold stipulated for a political party to be eligible to benefit.

Under the Act, only a political party that secures five percent of the total votes cast qualifies to benefit from the fiscus.

Zanu-PF will get the lion's share of the money after it secured more than two-thirds of Parliamentary seats as it trounced MDC-T in last year's watershed election, which was widely given a clean bill of health by local and international observers.

Zanu-PF won 160 out of the contested 210 National Assembly seats in the July 31, 2013 elections, with MDC-T winning 49. One seat went to an independent contestant.

A rough calculation shows Zanu-PF will get about US$2,2 million and MDC-T will receive around US$800 000.

Government enacted the Political Parties (Finance) Act in 2002 after it emerged that some political parties were getting funding from hostile foreign governments and non-governmental organisations.

Some parties have tried to circumvent the law by getting money from NGOs that are based in Zimbabwe.

Many countries, for example the United States, do not allow political parties to get foreign funding.

The two-thirds majority secured by Zanu-PF last year enables it to make constitutional amendments should the need arise.

One seat went to independent legislator, Mr Jonathan Samkange, who has indicated he will vote with Zanu-PF in Parliament as he subscribed to the party's ideology.

With the inclusion of seats from proportional representation, Zanu-PF has 197, MDC-T 70 and MDC two.

In the Presidential poll, President Mugabe swept aside the challenge of MDC-T's Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, getting 61,09 percent of the vote to the latter's 33,94 percent.

Small political parties have in the past asked Government to extend financing to them but their pleas hit a brickwall when the Constitutional Court dismissed their application to that end.

The Zimbabwe Development Party, led by Mr Kisinot Mukwazhi, approached the Constitutional Court in January 2013 seeking an order to compel Treasury to release funding to all political parties participating in national elections.

However, the court said would be "irresponsible and dangerous for government if all political parties were to be funded" from the fiscus.

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