Rwanda’s Green Party mulls bank loan to fund presidential campaign

Published by Théophile Niyitegeka
On 15 March 2017 saa 11:56
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The Green Party is considering a bank loan to finance its presidential flag bearer in the August elections, reflecting the difficulties Rwandan political parties are facing with election financing.

Frank Habineza, the president and presumed presidential flag bearer of the Green Party said borrowing to support his campaign was one option that the party will discuss in the near future.

The Green Party’s political bureau elected Mr Habineza as its presidential flagbearer last December, a decision the party’s assembly is expected to confirm before the end of this month.

“We are still trying to see how much we are going to raise from our members, but if we don’t raise enough, we are considering a loan from a bank, though we are yet to discuss this as a party,” Mr Habineza said.

Although the party has in the past had trouble with getting even a meeting venue, Mr Habineza said he did not expect any trouble in getting lenders to extend credit to the party.

“Borrowing is a viable option for us because all that banks require of us is a register of our members and the contributions they make. We have more than 200,000 members so we can borrow the same way schools borrow against student enrolment,” he said.

Three-week window

Rwanda’s presidential campaigns have been squeezed into a tight three-week window starting July1 4, reflecting efforts to lighten the financial burden on the candidates.

Even President Paul Kagame’s Rwanda Patriotic Front which is assumed to be well funded is understood to be planning to spend less compared with previous elections.

The Green Party, which is the most vocal opposition party, says it has come up with a budget of Rwf1.6 billion ($2 million), but says that it is struggling to raise the money.

“What we have managed to collect at the moment is laughable when you compare it to the budget we have. This will definitely affect our reach countrywide and sensitisation campaigns,” Mr Habineza said adding that, “The only thing we are fully guaranteed of is security during the campaigns offered by the police, but when it comes to money, it is a real struggle.”

The Liberal Party’s Donatile Mukabalisa refused to discuss the party’s campaign budget while the Social Democratic Party President Vincent Biruta was not available for comment.

However inside sources told The EastAfrican that even these parties were struggling to finance their candidates’ campaigns.

“In the 2013 presidential campaigns, the Liberal Party got a bank loan to finance its campaigns, and to date are still struggling to repay that loan,” a source who preferred anonymity said.

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Frank Habineza, the president and presumed presidential flag bearer of the Green Party.

Source:The East African