Sunday, 29 December 2013

Political Parties and Campaign Financing

Jamaica’s two major political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and the People’s National Party (PNP), have for far too long evaded the issue of campaign and party financing.  This avoidance of disclosing the source of campaign funding has fuelled and strengthened the perception in the society that politics is dirty, self-serving and corrupt. The recent developments in the court proceedings in Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) involving the head of a ponzi scheme has highlighted and exposed the dire urgency for both political parties and civil society to engage in dialogue with the primary purpose of addressing the issue by crafting the necessary legislation to deal with the matter.
The time has come for all law abiding and civic minded Jamaicans to demand more from, and hold our politicians to a higher standard than what currently exists. Transparency and accountability have always taken a back burner in the Jamaican society, and we must ensure that in a new paradigm of governance both transparency and accountability will be primary. The confiscation order issued by the Supreme Court in Turks and Caicos Islands reveals the clear and present threat that our democracy face should we allow business to continue as usual. There is a common proverb in the society which says, “He who pays the piper calls the tune” In order words if you are financing an undertaking, you have the right to say how it will be carried out. Financiers of political parties are not doing so out of the kindness of their hearts. These financiers expect favours or they expect to influence specific policies who may or may not be beneficial to the wider society should their party of choice forms the government. This proverb aptly reinforces the urgent need for us as a society to have full disclosure regarding contributions to political parties. We need to know from our political parties who are those contributing to the various political parties. We need to know the size of all contribution. We need to know also the source of funds for each contributor to political parties. These donors are contributing up to or in excess of US$5 Million/ J$450Million to election campaigns, far from peanut change you will agree. 
This turn of events have seriously tainted our political institutions and our politicians and beckons us as a society to call for men and women of integrity to serve Jamaica land we love.