Rwanda’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) has warned candidates vying for presidency against fundraising to raise campaign money.
The Executive Secretary of the Electoral Commission Charles Munyaneza told The EastAfrican that some people have already declared themselves “candidates” in the August 4 presidential polls yet the body is yet to receive their applications.
The commission says local media has been reporting that several presidential candidates were asking people to donate to their campaign yet it is against the law.
“It is wrong for anyone to call themselves a candidate and use it to get money from the public when they are not declared a candidate by NEC,” said Mr Munyaneza.
The commission will receive nominations from candidates from June 12 to 23.
Last month, local media reported that Phillipe Mpayimana, a former journalist who has expressed his interest to contest in the presidential polls initiated a fundraising drive, urging citizens to contribute money to support his bid.
Controversial Roman Catholic Priest Thomas Nahimana has also been running a campaign abroad as a presidential candidate but has failed to return to the country to launch his bid. The electoral body warned that the act of raising funds before approval or nomination by the commission is against the law.
Last month, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda said it had confirmed its president Frank Habineza as a candidate in the August presidential polls.
Mr Habineza will take on the incumbent President Paul Kagame who will be seeking a third term in office. The Rwandan leader is expected to sweep the polls.
However, the opposition party says it is financially constrained because the law prohibits the party from taking donations.
The electoral commission however clarified that political parties can get money from their members for any purpose including preparing for elections.
In an interview with The EastAfrican, Mr Habineza said that his party is ready to vie for the country’s top office, despite the financial constraints it is facing.
But he said restrictions on external funding for political parties had left parties almost bankrupt.
On the other hand, the ruling party RPF boasts of a huge resource base, given its many business ventures, making it one of the richest political parties in the world.
Under the law, political parties grouped under the National Consultative Forum for Political Parties are supposed to get a refund on campaign funds used during an election.
The parties or independent candidates who receive a refund have to garner at least five percent in the general elections.
RPF has been in power since 1994. It runs a business conglomerate Crystal Ventures Ltd and also boasts of wealthy members who can easily bankroll its political activities.