NAIROBI - Participants at the 2nd annual EAC Conference on Good Governance have decried the external funding of elections in East Africa, saying that this compromises the legitimacy of the polls.
The three-day conference which closed yesterday attracted over 100 participants from the region.
The CEO of the Rwanda Governance Advisory Council (RGAC) Prof Anastase Shyaka however observed that some African countries have taken election funding as a matter of resource mobilization, not because they lack funds to organize elections.
“It’s a matter of prioritization on what needs funding first,” he said in a presentation he delivered yesterday.
“Funding political elections should be part of a central mission of any government because the outcome of election is the one on which we rely on the management of any society,” he said.
Prof Mwesiga Baregu, a political science lecturer at the St. Augustine University, in Tanzania, wondered why donors should believe that by funding elections in Africa they are promoting democracy.
“In reality, however, the opposite is the case. By interfering in the social contract space, donor funding has the effect of undermining electoral legitimacy,” Baregu said.
He added that donor funding creates a patron-client rather than a citizen-public servant relationship between the citizens and the elected leader.
Eng Badru Kiggundu, the Chairman of Uganda’s Electoral Commission, called upon countries to increase their tax bases, adding that this will enable them finance their own elections.
However, Masha Fortunate, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly from Tanzania, said that countries in the region are still new democracies which can’t handle the full financing of elections.
“At this stage outright refusal of external funding to elections to political parties would not be realistic. But yes, as a principle we should be looking to a future where our political operations should be funded locally,” he said.
Rwanda is among the few countries in Africa that contributes the biggest percentage of funding to its electoral processes.