By Dr Alphonse Gelu
The Acting Registrar with a small number of staff from the Registry met with a delegation from the Chinese Communist Party at the Registry on December 11, 2018. The Chinese delegation had 5 officials. Three General Secretaries of three parties in the country also attended, Joyce Grant from the National Alliance, Moses Karr from the People's Progress Party and Morris Toveaba from the Pangu Pati. The General Secretaries were given time to talk about their parties and their experiences in managing their parties in Papua New Guinea. All the three General Secretaries had the opportunity to visit China in the past on the invitation of the CPC as part of a program with the National Parliament
The Acting Registrar spent some time in explaining the system of government and the party system in the country to the officials. Papua New Guinea has a parliamentary system of government with a multiparty system and a single member constituency. Currently there are 45 registered political parties in the country.
The Registry is an independent body but receives funding from the Government. The Registry is mandated by the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC). The OLIPPAC has 3 main objectives, firstly to create political stability, secondly, to maintain integrity in the process of elections and thirdly, to strengthen political parties in the country.
The Registry has worked with the parties since 2013 to develop and strengthen them in the country. However there are still many challenges especially with the weaknesses found in the parties in the country in terms of membership, funding, visibility at the village level, weak policies, lack of loyalty, etc.
The lack of funding to support the activities of the Registry is also a very big challenge. The Registry has identified its major programs annually but could not implement them because of the failure to fund the programs from the annual budget.
The Chinese delegation were impressed with the set up of the Registry and Commission. To them this is their first time to know of an office in any country that is created to manage the affairs of the political parties.
The Chinese according to their spokeman Zhu Rui who is the Director-General in the General Office, International Department, Central Committee, Communist Party of China, talked about the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and how it has evolved over time. The CPC as a party has its history in the people down at the grassroots level. It started from ground zero and made its way up to the national level. With its population at 1.4 billion, about 900, 000 people are members of the CPC.
The CPC has a strong party structure and runs all the way up and down the entire stratum of Chinese society. Commitment to CPC comes first before anything else even doing work for the party after working hours, no questions asked and no demand for pay. Volunteering is an important culture within the CPC. An interesting quote from Mr. Rui, is "political party is the basis for politics. Without a political party, there is no country". This clearly shows how dominant the CPC is. Stability has been a factor that has allowed CPC to transform the economy of China into a super trading power thus affecting the balance of power globally.
Discussions with the CPC officials is not the first for the Registry as the Registry has been privileged to meet officials from other countries includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Mongolia, Nepal, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. The Registry is keen and interested to learn as much as it can from the different countries on their experiences in the development of their party system. Hence the different experiences has assisted the Registry to develop programs to promote political parties in the country and to also understand the election process in those countries.
The Australian Labour Party (ALP) remains the key partner of the Registry in the running of many of the activities targeting political parties especially the promotion of women participation despite its small budget in assisting programs within the Asia-Pacific region.
The Registry is also a partner with the Australian National University (ANU) in the conduct of the training for women contesting national elections and Local Level Government elections. An MOU was signed in 2017 for this partnership between the Registry and ANU.