Political parties to declare assets this year

01 Mar 2016 19:20pm
WINDHOEK, 01 MAR (NAMPA) – All registered political parties are expected to declare their assets and liabilities before the end of this year.
This will be the first time in Namibian history political parties are required to do so.
The Head of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN)’s Legal Department, Advocate Heidi Jacobs made the announcement on Tuesday during the two-day political party financing workshop in the capital.
Jacobs said the decision is stipulated in Section 139 of the Electoral Act, Act No 5 of 2014, which was passed by Parliament in October 2014.
Failure to declare will result in de-registration with the ECN.
A total of 16 political parties are registered with the ECN.
“Assets refer to all movable and immovable properties such as office equipment, vehicles, buildings and other assets, while liabilities include loans and shares the political party acquired,” she explained.
Jacobs said the Act indicates that registered political parties have to declare their assets within 21 days of registration with the ECN.
However, the legal expert said the Act was passed during the time of preparation for the country's general elections, which eventually took place on 28 November 2014.
No political party has declared its assets and liabilities thus far.
Jacobs said going forward, the declaration of the assets will be done annually from the day of the opening of Parliament.
Political parties are required to provide an annual audited report on their financial status to the ECN no later than six months after the political party's financial year ends.
Jacobs said the report should stipulate all the party's sources of income, which could include donations given by foreign and/or local entities or individuals, and how the money was used.
She also announced that the maximum limit of donations in monetary terms to be received by political parties per year will be determined soon.
The regulation also stipulates that parties' abridged financial reports should be published in two local newspapers.
On her part, ECN Chairperson Notemba Tjipueja explained that public consultations about the declaration of assets were done by the Law Reform and Development Commission, and the Act was debated in Parliament and passed through its two August houses - National Assembly (NA) and National Council - in 2014.
“We are going to agree on the date of submission, hence the purpose of this workshop,” she said.
The announcement caused mixed feelings among the participating political parties’ representatives in the workshop, with some saying they were not properly consulted on the matter.
Some claimed that they were not informed by their representatives in the NA about the issue.
“It is a surprise to hear such information. We have representatives in the NA where they discussed the law, but nobody informed us,” said one participant who did not want his name mentioned.
DTA of Namibia’s Director of Operations, Reginald Diergaardt said it is not fair for opposition parties to disclose their sources of income and assets generated before they benefit from public funding.
“This is an ill-conceived idea. It is unfair to declare assets we get before the gazetting of the Act. We have no money to pay the auditors,” he emphasised.
Only nine political parties represented in Parliament benefit from public funding.
The workshop which was attended by about 50 political parties’ representatives, was aimed at engaging all registered political parties, associations and stakeholders on the need to comply with Chapter Four of the Electoral Act, Act 05 of 2014 with regard to the political party financing.
The gathering was also aimed at presenting draft regulations regarding the declaration of assets and liabilities of political parties, and the disclosure of foreign and domestic financial donations of political parties and organisations.
The workshop ends Wednesday.