United Kingdom-based law lecturer, Alex Tawanda Magaisa, has said there can be readjustments to political party funding as a result of the just-ended by-elections which saw opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) winning the majority of National Assembly and local government seats. Under the Political Parties (Finance) Act, the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition MDC Alliance have been receiving funding based on the 2018 election outcome where the two parties attained at least 5% of the total votes cast in a general election. Pindula News presents Magaisa’s Twitter thread on the matter:
Political party funding: what happens now?
Several people have asked this question so here’s a short thread. Zimbabwe has a law that provides for the funding of political parties. This is consistent with section 67(4) of the Constitution which says there must be such a law.
That law is called the Political Parties (Finance) Act. For a party to qualify for funding, it must have won at least 5% of the total votes cast in a general election. Only 2 parties qualified in 2018: ZANU PF & MDC Alliance. The money was given to these parties.
After the controversial Supreme Court judgment in March 2020 things changed and the government began to allocate that money to the MDC-T under Khupe & later under Mwonzora. That diversion was meant to financially cripple the legitimate opposition.
So what if there are by-elections and the composition of Parliament changes? Section 3(4) states that there shall be adjustments to the amounts payable to political parties having regard to changes in the total votes cast as a result of the by elections.
I’m not sure that this provision has ever been invoked in the past to make changes to funding but if it has government will just follow precedent. If not, however, a new precedent will have to be set following these by-elections. A number of factors will come into play.
First, the MDC-T has now lost title to all the votes that were won in the affected constituencies in 2018. These votes now belong to the CCC. The next question is whether this loss affects the MDC-T’s ability to meet the 5% threshold to qualify for funding.
In this regard, it matters that the higher voter turnout in 2018 contributed to the MDC-T’s ability to make the threshold. In any event, the loss of those high numbers will significantly reduce its share of the political funding since funding is tied to the number of votes.
As for the CCC, qualification for funding also depends on meeting the 5% threshold. The problem I foresee is the low voter turnout in the by-elections which means the total votes might not make a big impact on the total number of votes cast at the general election in 2018
But this is a matter that I leave to those whose minds are suitably tuned to figures. What I have given here is the legal formula. You guys can now exercise your able mathematical minds but I imagine you would need the entire data set of results from 2018 & the by-elections.
So in short, the answer is yes, there can be readjustments to political party funding as a result of the by-elections and while I don’t know of a precedent, there’s room to chart a new one based on the current set of circumstances.