Umaru Napoleon Koroma, Deputy Minister of Justice, Members of Parliament have expunged the clause in the Bill entitled Political Parties Act 2022 which proposed that political parties be given subvention from Government resources.
Deputy Minister of Justice, Umaru Napoleon Koroma on the 24th November 2022 after the passage of the bill into an Act explained to journalists that government had had in the bill a proposal to fund political parties by giving them subvention, but said MPs saw the provision as a burden on tax payers’ money and therefore expunged the clause.
Clause 35 (2) of the bill proposed that: “The Government shall provide annual subvention to political parties for capacity building”.
Koroma explained that the Act asks parties to reveal their sources of funding, and that the law has prohibited parties to source funding from certain groups such as terrorists,and money launders. In contravention with the law, parties will face penalty.
The Deputy Minister stated that the Political Parties Registration Commission under this Act has the power to cancel the registration of political parties for certain issues, amongst them is when the commission finds out that the membership and the leadership of the party are restricted to one tribe, religion or ethnic group. A party’s registration can be cancelled if that party goes in contravention of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.
Despite the commission’s power to deregister, the Act gives the parties the opportunity to react within ninety days.
Speaking about violence, Koroma said that the commission now has the power to deregister a party that engages in violence, but that it can only occur after series of procedures. He explained that on the first instance the party will be warned, fined a sum of not less than NLe 100,000 ( one hundred thousand new Leones) for the second time, suspended for the third and deregistered when the act happened for the fourth time.
He added that the party can appeal to the Supreme Court which has the power to seek remedy, noting that the court may decide to reinstate the party or not. Koroma further explained that if the party is not reinstated, the party can re-register.
MPs expunged Clause 26 (1) (i) which proposed that a party can be deregistered if it fails to secure at least 2% of total votes cast in a parliamentary election in which it had contested.
One of the criteria laid down for prospective parties is that they should have a membership of eight hundred registered members across the country. Clause 22 (1) (e) states for “proof of evidence of membership of at least 50 members, in each electoral district”. This means that one of the requirements for an association to apply for registration to a party is to have at least 5o members in the 16 districts of Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Minister said that the new Act gives power to the commission to regulate political parties in relation to their conduct, adding that the commission ensures that parties compile with provisions in the Act.
The Political Parties Act of 2022 was enacted on the 24th November 2022.