46 years after independence a leader of a political party in our country is hauled to the offices of one of the Law Enforcement Agents to explain why his personal account was credited with an amount of USD 100,000.00 allegedly given to him by the former Chairman of the Bank as a political contribution to his political party. If there were such a criminal offence in our statutes against a Bank donating money for political causes this allegation would definitely be cause for a criminal investigation.

But only twelve months ago a former President of Zambia claimed that an amount of USD 8 million which was in a Zambian Government Account was his own money given to him by friends and well wishers when he was in office. He has named none of these friends and well-wishers!

The people do not know if the former President has collected this money he had chosen to bank in a Government account. Neither have Government authorities hauled this former President to their offices to demand an explanation as to the actual source of the money. True that the former President did not claim the USD 8 million was a political donation to his political party. All he has told members of the public is that this USD 8 million is his own money banked in a government account.

Leaving Mr. Chiluba and his eight million dollars and unknown origins aside, we do have a problem relating to donations to political parties. Political parties are necessary in any democratic system of government. It is also true that political parties require funding in order to compete with other parties in the country.

Before independence in 1964 members of a political party were responsible for raising funds for the running and organisation of their various political parties. At that time the United Federal Party of Mr. H.J. Roberts; the African National Congress of Mr. Harry Nkumbula and the United National Independence Party of then Mr. Kenneth Kaunda were individually responsible for raising funds for their parties. This state of affairs continued up to 1973 when other political parties were outlawed and the United National Independence Party became by law the only political party in Zambia. During the one party state the only political party was directly funded from Government revenue.

Political pluralism was restored on the 17th December 1990. With the return of political pluralism state funding to the United National Independence Party ceased. After the election in November 1991 the Movement for Multi Party Democracy which won the elections did not enact a law for the funding of political parties in Zambia.

This was and continues to be an omission of immense proportions and has been the cause of political disadvantage to political parties outside government.

Political parties are there to serve the people of Zambia in the same way, as the political parties elsewhere are meant to serve the people of the country where these parties operate. Even the party in power needs money to run its party affairs. Under these conditions it is not realistically possible for the party in government to manage party affairs without dipping its fingers in the government coffers.

It is a prerequisite to any democratic system that there should be a level political playing field between and among the political parties in the contest. This means that a mechanism should be put in place to ensure that all the political parties, particularly those with seats in the national legislature, are funded proportionate to the number of their seats in the legislature. Such funding should be governed by an Act of the Legislature. The Statute should also provide for disclosure for any additional funding received by a political party from other sources. These sources should include both domestic and foreign. Political parties should then open their books for inspection by an independent auditor and the Auditor general's office since part of the source of the money is from taxpayers.

Would such an arrangement only apply to Zambian politics?

What we should know is that funding political parties is not new in our region or elsewhere in the world. Political parties are funded in Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and etc.

It is an open secret that the MMD gets a lot of its funding from the tax payers' money and from the private sector, very institutions they now accuse of funding the opposition. Zambians have not forgotten what happened only a few years ago when Mr. Chiluba was President. A trunk full of money drawn from a Government Account at Zambia National Commercial Bank found its way to State House and the money in the trunk was used by the MMD in its political operations. The Managing Director at the time, Mr. Musonda, appeared in our courts and the lower courts have convicted him for abuse of office. Part of the charges against Mr. Musonda relates to the political activities of the MMD.

Ironically, the person the MDD are now persecuting over funding of a political party was for many years the National Secretary of the MMD. The man they now wish to accuse knows from his experience that the governing party uses government money for its organisation.

There is a way out. Enact a law for the funding and integrity in the organisation of political parties. The MMD might find itself in the opposition after the general elections at the end of next year. Surely such an Act of Parliament would benefit not only other political parties but the MMD as well?

To reduce conflict in our country we must finesse our political system and the first step in this process is to finally admit its many flaws and the excesses of those who have been engaged in politics both in the past and today. In my view the current system is deeply flawed and the constitutional plans so far outlined are insufficient to rectify it. I was asked prior to the current proposed electoral changes being announced to give my views on the issue, which I did in a long filmed interview. This was never aired but in it I expressed my view that we must seriously examine the many advantages of the proportional representational system if we have the genuine desire to expand our democracy. I hope that one day Zambians will be permitted a real opportunity to develop a constitution that will stand the test of time.