In the Kaieteur News’ edition of October 21, 2011, the “Peeping Tom” columnist repeated (that which is being selectively and, dare I say, with agenda) a much peddled observation, viz that GECOM’s proposed Code of Conduct for Political Parties does not mention “Campaign Financing”. This is quite untrue.
GECOM’s proposed “Code of Conduct for Political Parties” documents, on the very first page, our clear insistence that “Political Parties must unreservedly pledge “to adhere to strict standards of financial probity, accountability and transparency”. This statement inherently incorporates Parties’ dealings with potential contributors to campaigns. Also, the statement obviously:
(i) discourages Party members and supporters from accepting on behalf of the Party, monetary donations, or donations in kind from any source whose financial and/or business history is questionable, or unverifiable, or the subject of a judicial investigation;
(ii) advocates the keeping of records of all financial transactions entered into by the Party, during the elections periods, and to make such records available for public scrutiny, should the necessity arise;
(iii) encourages Parties to investigate the provenance of any donation/contribution to the Party, of which the Party is unsure or suspicious of, and refuse or return same, if the contributor’s bona fides cannot be authenticated;
(iv) insists that Parties refuse contributions (of any kind) from provably disreputable persons/organizations or persons/organizations with documented criminal records.
Let us face facts: such diktats are difficult to monitor (locally and internationally), and our laws (Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:03, sections 115-121) governing Campaign Financing are woefully inadequate and archaic. For this reason, it is so important that Political Parties themselves must initiate the taking of the moral high ground and adhere to the concept of self-regulatoriness which is the cornerstone of the Code.
What is so wrong with that? Since when is decency counterproductive? What makes one believe that the adherence to honesty will not be recognized, lauded and rewarded?
Dr. R.S. Surujbally, A.A.
Guyana Elections Commission