2009-10-29 08:39:00 Govt to fund presidential contestants in 2010 raceBy Damas Kanyabwoya, Dodoma THE CITIZEN The government has decided to partly finance expenses of presidential candidates in next year's general election.At the same time, it said politicians will be banned from running businesses. The minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Coordination and parliamentary Affairs), Mr Philip Marmo, told reporters here yesterday that it would be possible if parliament passes two draft laws on election financing and leadership ethics, expected to be tabled in parliament next January. "The Government Printer is finalising the printing of the Bill to regulate the cost of Presidential, legislative and ward elections, and we expect by next week the public will be able to study it and give their comments," he said. He added that the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Bill would also be released soon. If everything goes as planned the two Bills would be ready for tabling before Parliament in January next year, he said. Minister Marmo said input from the public and stakeholders would be used to improve the proposed laws. The law on the financing of Presidential, legislative and ward elections is expected to ban the funding of elections using money from foreign sources, and illegal businesses. The Public Leadership Code of Ethics Bill seeks to bar politicians from running businesses while holding public office, he said. On the funding elections, the Government wants to start by paying all party agents picked to oversee the voting process. Currently, the respective parties pay their own polling agents, a system that led to complaints that agents from non-liquid parties were easily compromised to tilt results. The state will also accord security to all presidential candidates and their running mates during the entire period of campaigning, Mr Marmo said. In addition, each party would be assured free airtime on state run media. The opposition used to complain that the organs favoured the ruling party. The two proposed laws were in fulfilment of promises President Jakaya Kikwete made in his maiden Bunge speech in December 2005. The President promised to regulate the political field, reduce conflict of interests and massive electoral corruption due to too much undisclosed money used in elections. The minister also said the Elections Costs and Funding Bill will make big amendments to the existing Elections Act, 1985 and the Political Parties Act, 1992 in order to harmonise and streamline the elections financing activities to be regulated by the new law. He noted that the law on elections funding, which will be enforced by the Registrar of Political Parties, would require the disclosure of the amount and the source of funding by both political parties and individual candidates in the whole process, from nomination to the campaigning and the final voting. Money or equipment and any other form of assistance from outside the country from any source, whether from relatives, friends, organisations, business entities, governments or charities will not be allowed to fund election activities in Tanzania. "Foreign investors with operations in Tanzania may be allowed to donate money to parties or individuals provided that the amount is disclosed," said Mr Marmo. Money from illegal businesses such as drugs or money obtained from tax evasion and any other illicit trade will also not be allowed, the minister insisted. Parties or individuals will be obliged to show documents and other evidence to ensure the source and authenticity of the money. He said the new law is expected to double the functions of the office of the Registrar of Political Parties because it will be responsible for overseeing that every political party and candidate observed the election-funding rules. The Registrar would also be responsible for drafting the rules and conditions of the two laws and spell out punishment to individuals or parties found to contravene the law. Mr Marmo said his ministry has set aside about Sh100 million to meet the expenses during the sensitisation and discussion of the bill by the public and various stakeholders. The money will cover, among other things, advertising the bill in the mass media. "Too much money used to fund the 2005 General Election by parties and candidates proved to be a threat to the democratic process due to allegations of corruption. And this has so much necessitated the need for a law regulating election costs and funding," Mr Marmo said. He said, for example, no limit has been determined yet on the total money to be used by a candidate or a political party; or the sealing on contributions by individuals or organisations. "We expect the people to propose such things," he said. A team of experts carefully crafted the two bills after visiting other African including Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Zambia to see how elections were funded and regulated there. The Public Leadership Code of Ethics Bill will essentially constitute amendments to the existing Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act, 1995 to bar politicians from continuing to run their personal businesses. The minister said it was not yet establish, which type or size of businesses would be touched by law the Bill proposes placing the businesses of a politician under a trust that would operate them on their behalf during the whole period that they would hold public office. "The people and the various stakeholders will decide on the size of businesses to be affected," he said. The team that crafted the Bill came from the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the Public Leadership and Ethics Secretariat, the Registrar of Political Parties, the National Electoral Commission and the Attorney General's Chambers.