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Friday, 7 May 2010

Dutch aid for political violence

Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy  comes clean :

With the support of NIMD, Zambia’s political parties have founded the Zambian Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID), which is instrumental in creating political consensus on democratic reforms. NIMD also supports the institutional development of political parties in Zambia. NIMD provides this support on a fully inclusive and strictly impartial basis: all parliamentary parties are eligible for support, whether in government or in the opposition. The allocation of funding is based on modalities determined by ZCID. NIMD respects these modalities.

In 2009 the amounts received by the parties under individual contracts with NIMD are as follows: UNIP: € 14,285; NDF: € 14,285; ULP: €12,931 (due to underspending); PF: € 14,285 ; MMD: €14,285 and FDD: No contract signed in 2009. These amounts have been verified by a chartered accountant. In 2010, no contracts have been signed by NIMD and the political parties. Consequently, none of the parties has received any funds from NIMD in 2010. NIMD and ZCID are currently discussing matters relating the partnership, which we hope will be resolved in a few weeks.
There are atleast two reasons why I think it is wrong for NIMD to fund Zambian political parties in this

First, it is morally wrong for them to give money to parties that perpetually engage in electoral fraud and dabble in violence. NIMD may argue that it is balanced but really why give money to these parties that only use it to buy and ship cadres to electoral areas and breed violence and intimidate old people? It is not good enough for NIMD to argue that it cannot be held responsible for how the money is used.  Its like lending a gun to someone who is a perpetual serial killer and then claim that you simply give!  The record of electoral fraud is well known, as is the on-going intimidation of voters in many parts by self-appointed cadres.

Secondly, NIMD's funding distorts incentives for parties to collaborate. The mushrooming of parties that we have seen clearly have their compass locked on foreign organisations like NIMD. These things continue to perpetuate the politics of poverty. NDF, FDD and ULP are one man parties that are doing nothing for the advancement of our political system. I have always defended the conferred right of these parties to exist, but not when their existence is an outcome of external intervention. It is highly questionable whether these small one band parties would make any noise without the euros in their pockets. These organisations like NIMD serve no useful role in our democratic process.

As a general point, I continue to oppose central funding of political parties, whether through government or NIMD. If NIMD wants to help, it should focus its attention on lobbying for tight regulation on political funding as discussed here. What we need is a regulatory system not more money from the likes of NIMD.


  1. Cho,

    Are you 'there' for tax funded parties? That would take all these kinds of shenanigans out of the process.

    I completely agree with you that political parties should not be sponsored by foreign NGOs.

    Having said all that, NIMD seems to be above board, and their directors are from several leftwing political parties, one conservative one, one religious party. The socialists (marxists) and and the pro-animal (PETA-type) party wouldn't sign on. My own comment on this article on my own blog is:

    COMMENT - I am completely against foreign funding of political parties. However, considering how the MMD wants to rely on 'donors' for so much of the country's activities, and considering that this particular funding would be open to all parties (and it had better be), I don't think this reflects on the PF alone. It would put the MMD on a higher moral pedestal if they too were completely honest about the sources of their political funds. The NIMD board seems to be truly multi-party. However, I still don't like this kind of activity.

  2. By the way ULP actually has 3 MPs. One in Southern province and two in Western Province. Besides all parties in Zambia revolve around one person i.e the so called party president. It is true of the MMD, PF and UPND. There is simply no intra party-democracy in Zambia. Democracy in Zambia was still-born in 1991!

  3. I have a big problem with any foreign entity (govt, NGO, political organisation, etc) and corporations playing a role in campaign financing. Those "donations" are not free and come with strings attached. For someone to give your political party or campaign large sums of money what are you promising to give them in return? I think this adds another layer of complexity in political relationships and once again puts voters needs and wants on the back burner while favours are repaid behind closed doors. I am more in favour of public financing where possible and small individual contributions.

  4. MrK,

    "Are you 'there' for tax funded parties?"

    Emphatically No!!

    You will recall that this is the topic that coined the term "sakism".

    I have previously set out my reasons under :

    Sakism and When Hichilenomics met Sakism with good discussions under the comment section.


    I was under the impression ULP only had 2 MPs. But the point is that they have MPs. So not quite a one man party! I was on a roll :) But you are quite right to point out that implicitly that the NIMD approach is to fund all parties in Parliament. Though that does not negate the main points.


    "I am more in favour of public financing where possible and small individual contributions.

    See links above. I do not find public financing persuasive because the solutions it posits to solve can be solved through other means and through regulation. Also I don't think political parties are inerrantly public goods to warrant public money. They are NOT non-rival or non-excludable. Neither can we argue that their existence fulfils a missing market per se or generate any positive externalities independent of other apparatus.


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