Opposition political parties have started a fundraising drive for funds to sponsor their delegatesâ€™ conferences.
However, the Government is uncomfortable about parties getting donor money, and has proposed in the Political Parties and Organisations (Amendment) Bill to limit donor aid to parties.
It is feared that soliciting donor aid may compromise political parties and undermine national interests and independence. This is not necessarily true.
About 50% of the national budget is funded by foreign donors, mainly industrialised countries of the West. Citizens of these donor countries have interest in how their money is utilised, and they know that good governance is vital in resource utilisation.
The opposition is an important ingredient of good governance because it acts as a watchdog; holds the Government accountable; scrutinises government policies and activities; provides alternative policies; and monitors public expenditure. For example, several parliamentary committees are headed by opposition MPs because the Government cannot account to itself.
Therefore, a strong opposition is good for both donors and Ugandans. It provides checks and balances and promotes competition, which breeds efficiency in management of public affairs. This is why the opposition should not be seen as enemies but as partners in governance.
If parties do not receive aid, they wonâ€™t play their role effectively because their members or the Government are unable to finance their operations fully.
There should be worry only if a country which does not finance government programmes seeks to fund the opposition. But donors who provide budgetary support should be free to finance parties, although not at the same level.
We only need to specify which countries or organisations may not donate to parties, as was the case in 2001 elections. The media, political parties and other civil society organisations are part of the Fourth Estate and are crucial in promoting democracy, human rights and good governance. The stronger they are, the better. Since donor money has not compromised the Government, it may not compromise the Opposition especially if it is from similar sources.
Political parties should get donations