Executive Summary The now defunct Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) in its valedictory report on the Senatorial elections and the Gutu House of Assembly by-election of November 2005 notes that the absence of laws for the registration of political parties had led to the emergence of ‘fly-by-night’ political parties. It then recommended that to curb this tendency, political parties should be formally registered. This Report is an attempt to contribute to the debate not so much to stir the debate further but to clarify issues by more objectively but critically looking at the merits and demerits of the proposal. It does so by situating Zimbabwe within a community of nations but one that is struggling to consolidate its democratic practices and by interrogating the rationale for party registration, drawing lessons from other countries – developed and underdeveloped, old and new democracies – and recommending the ‘best’ way forward on this contestable issue. The Report also gives a background of the regulation of political parties, reviews various models of political finance and the different issues normally regulated including corruption, disclosures, public subsidies and the penalties for non-compliance with the law. It then focuses on Zimbabwe by examining the regulatory framework applicable in the country but aloes doing so from a comparative canvass. After critically analysing the various models, the report then recommends what is deemed to be the most appropriate reforms in the country that can best promote transparency, accountability and efficiency in electoral management and processes. Many countries have regulations governing political parties at some stage of the political game. These include mature democracies in North America like Canada and the United States, many European countries including Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Spain and African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. There are numerous aspects of party activity that can be regulated but in almost all cases, it is the financing of political parties that is the most prominent and also the most contested and controversial. In this Report, we conclude that when done in good faith i.e. without ulterior and sinister motives, party regulation promotes transparency and democratic accountability to the public, curbs corrupt practices and provides for penalties for breach of the regulations. However, when the impulse to control drives the introduction of party registration, then the move can be a recipe for mutual suspicion and distrust which can further poison the political atmosphere. On Political Party Financing : • Mass parties, because they are membership-driven and oriented, tend to opt for a grassroots funding methodology, relying on small membership dues from numerous individuals or on union support. • Political parties also use various fundraising techniques to finance their activities, and where corporate donations are not readily forthcoming, political parties, especially governing parties, often resort to toll-gating and kickbacks. • In most of the developing countries undergoing economic reforms, privatisation programmes provide another lucrative source of party (and indeed, personal) funding. 2

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