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Strict terms

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THE government has set out strict terms and conditions under the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013 ahead of the 2014 general elections.

The new decree, which will come into effect this Friday and sets out the guidelines for the formation of new political parties, was announced by the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said all political parties must register and failure to do so was an offence under the new decree.

He outlined that the new decree gave the 16 existing political parties registered under the old law 28 days to re-register from this Friday, however, they must meet the various terms and conditions set out in the decree.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said any organisation, group or group of individuals that call themselves or holds out to be a political party must register as a political party.

"If you hold yourself out to be a political party and you are not registered under the decree then you commit an offence," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said all political parties while applying must set out the name of the proposed political party in the English language and a symbol for the party.

This is to be submitted to the permanent secretary for elections, who would act as the registrar for political parties, no later than 30 days before elections.

"The various other criteria that you need is that you need to have five people who will be the applicants to register the political party."

Political parties need to have 5000 members to qualify for registration under the decree.

"Previously it was only 180 now you need 5000 members and of those 5000 members you must have at least 2000 in the Central Division, 1750 in the Western Division, 1000 in the Northern Division and 250 in the Eastern Division," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The applwcation must also include a registration fee of $5005.

"Upon the application being received, the registrar will than assess it and after the assessment the registrar the registrar needs to advertise the names of the applicants and members in the media."

In addition a public officer cannot be an applicant or a member of the proposed political party for the initial registration.

The decree also outlines that trade union officials cannot be an official of a political party.

"For example if I am a general secretary for a trade union I also cannot be an official of a political party at the same time. I can be one or the other," the Attorney General said.

He stated that public officer does not mean the president, prime minister or the minister.

"The political parties are required to keep various records that should be made available to the registrar and the public such as the constitution, register of members, policies and plans and also particulars of all donations and contributions made to the political party."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said annually all political parties need to have their accounts audited and published to create transparency.

He said the source of fund for a political party may only be from membership fees, voluntary contributions, grants from a lawful source but not from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said political parties need to disclose where they got their funds from to the registrar. This will also apply to the independent candidates.

"The amount of money that you can contribute as an individual to the political party cannot exceed $10,000 per annum."

"Under this law also you cannot allow any companies to donate funds."

He said this was because cooperation's can give very large sum of donations and then there is a sense of being beholden to a company.

"It also disallows any other entity for example a trade union movement cannot give a donation to a party," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Also, the decree sets out that if any person either candidate or independent candidate must before the elections declare their assets and liabilities to the public.

"The whole idea is to create transparency and accountability within political parties."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the decree also has a restriction that one cannot hold an office in a political party if they have been convicted for a period of six months or more over the past five years.

The key sources of the decree were from the existing laws, Kenyan Model, New South Wales model and the Canadian model.

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