Zambia must improve its political finance legal framework

The republic of Zambia is in the international spotlight this month as it is co-hosting the activities of the second Summit for Democracy (S4D) in Lusaka, along with 4 other capitals on March 29-30. The main theme for Lusaka is “electoral integrity” with one of the sub-themes in political finance. Inconsistently, the electoral laws of Zambia are devoid of provisions to regulate political party and campaign financing.

Africa’s political finance watchdog – Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), is calling upon the Zambian government under the leadership of His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, to prioritise the enactment of campaign finance and political party finance laws to control the negative influence of money on politics.

Secrets known has reviewed the four electoral laws of Zambia namely; the constitution of Zambia (amendment) Act No.2 of 2016, the Electoral Process Act No.35 of 2016, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (amendment) Act No.5 of 2019, and the Referendum Act No.5 of 2015. The only provision on political finance is in the electoral process Act section 81, and it is about voter bribery. The enforcement of this provision by the Electoral Commission, leaves a lot to be desired.

Having changed government peacefully three times already, Zambia is stands out as one of the progressive democracies on the continent. The time is rife for this country to introduce transparency and accountability in political financing, and legislation is the best starting point. Once the laws are in place, then the attention will shift to the practice.

Political party and campaign finance laws are the first line of defense when it comes to equalizing the conditions for political competition and insulating the country’s politics from the negative effects of money in politics.

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