Thursday, September 17, 2020

Political Parties & their Policies

By Dr Alphonse Gelu
I as the Registrar, felt obliged to respond to these letters by pointing out certain aspects of the nature of political parties in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and to highlight the issues on the number of parties and the effectiveness of the parties. For the concerned individuals that raised these issues, it is important to firstly understand what kind of democracy PNG is a part of.

Social Democratic Party during a Political Party Expo in 2018 in Lae, Morobe province
Democracy is a relative term to describe the status of a country according to the adaptation of a country according to the adaptation of major elements of democracy and how these elements of democracy and how these elements are internationalized in our country. The same goes for other countries that see themselves as being democratic. The major tenants of democracy included; free and fair elections, civil and political rights, civil and political rights, civil society and transparency and accountable government. These tenants of democracy basically covers the main areas that would make a particular country democratic or not and this can be done through the now famous audit of democracy, a tool that has been used widely determine the extent and level of democracy within a particular country.

Many scholars has also given and written about other tenants of democracy which included pluralism, universal suffrage, responsible and accountable government, etc. For PNG, we are known as a “developing democracy” which implies that our democracy is still developing. We have not reached the mature state of democracy that some other countries enjoys. Our institutions are still developing ur system of government is still developing our elections still needs major improvements rights and freedoms of our citizens still needed protections our people still need to be empowered information needs to be available to our peoples our system has to promote inclusiveness etc and of course as relative to our discussion, our party system still weak and fragile.

A weak and fragile political party system is a major feature of a developing democracy which PNG fits in very well. The party system that we have has features that clearly shows a need for more improvement to our party system. Some of the features of our party system includes; no membership base throughout the country; Port Moresby based; executives ineffective; not visible throughout the country; exclusive organization with little membership of women; weak party structures; weak constitutions; no loyalty from its members especially in Parliament; controlled by one person; does not have adequate funding, parties not factor that influence voter choices; policies are weak; and no clear ideological stand etc.

These factors have greatly affected the effectiveness of political parties in the country. Looking at the trend of party development, we started off with a few political parties in the 1970s but now have more parties in the country. Currently we have 46 registered political parties and 22 of them have MPs in Parliament while the rest do not. Many that don’t have MPs had contested elections since 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017 and have not won any seats. Some do not endorse candidates in the elections but request winning candidates to join them. Some even endorse only one person as a candidate. Some of these practices employed by political parties in PNG defeats the whole purpose of forming political parties in the first instance.

The motives behind the registration of these parties are not clear and based on some parochial values and outcomes. The dilemma the Registry of Political Party faces is that our Constitution allows for citizens to form or belong to or not belong to political parties as stipulated in Section 47; Fredom of Assembly and Association. As a result of this, the registry has allowed citizens to form political parties which have seen a drastic increase in the number of political parties.

The Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC 2003) has even contributed to the rise of political parties due to the provisions recognizing a political party once it goes through the normal processes/ procedures for registration. The registry is very much aware of the increase in the number of political parties and has instituted number of measures to address this. One of this is encouraging smaller parties to amalgamate as allowed in the law. In the Revised OLIPPAC (2017) that would be going before the National Executive Council (NEC) by the end of the year, the registry has inserted new provisions that would indirectly decrease the number of parties. This include making parties to endorse 10 percent of candidates from the total number of seats in Parliament endorsing 20 percent of women candidates, enlisting 2000 membership throughout the country, establishing four regional party branches, renewal of registration after every two years, keep a database of membership and the registry to check on this etc..

These are measures that if parties do not comply with, they will end up being deregistered thus, decreasing the number of political parties in the country. In terms of registering a new political party, the registry allows citizens to this but in recent yeas have developed this approach of requesting the individuals intending to form a new party to submit five of its main policies which must be different from the existing registered political parties. This practice has made many people to walk away because they could not identify five policies that are different from existing 40 plus political parties. The registry is therefore working on this issue in terms of the numbers of political parties. But one thing for sure that many people do not understand is that for many countries who are democratic have far more political parties than PNG despite them having a two party system.

In terms of working closely with political parties to address the inherent weaknesses in the party system, the registry since 2013 implemented a programme called “Learning and development workshops”. This is a capacity building programme that the registry initially partnered with the Center for Democratic Institute (CDI) based at the Australian National University (ANU). Trainers were brought in to facilitate training for the party executives. In 2015, the registry did this on its own with the registrar as the main trainer of facilitator for the programme. This programme ran on a quarterly basis from 2013 to 2017 up to the national elections. Many party executives benefited from this programme and its was all funded from the budget of the registry. The training that the registry ran included; importance of parties in a democracy, party systems, strengthening party structures, roles of the executives, book/accounts keeping, developing relevant party policies, purpose of party conventions, use of volunteers, importance of enlisting membership, establishing women and youth wings, campaign strategies, fund raising, endorsement of candidates and so on. All aspects of strengthening parties and building the capacities of the party executives were all covered.

The registry was well supported by the Liberal Party Australia and the Australia Labor Party (ALP). But it was the ALP that assisted the registry to cover the entire learning and development programme for political parties. They brought in party officials from the different states in Australia to share their experience in managing their political parties. To conclude, the registry is very much aware the number of political parties in the country. The registry is working to address this issue through the OLIPPAC but more so with the Revised OLIPPAC that once it is approved by the NEC would indirectly have impact on the number of parties in the country. At the same time, the registry has workd closely with all the parties, those with Mps and those without Mps in rolling out capacity building programmes. The executives have benefited from those programmes and many are using what they learned to help improve their parties and also improve their duties.

The registry has other programmes that it had identified through its annual work plans and will roll out however the registry does face massive financial constraints to roll out its activities especially in the areas of district awareness on political parties and secondly on the mentoring of women candidates in preparation for the 2022 national elections.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Information on Parties and MPs now online

The registry of Political Parties recently launched its Parties and Members of Parliament (PAMPS) app as part of its awareness program. In 2016 the Registry conducted a survey on the perception of people about political parties including an observation of the 2017 national elections, found that not a lot of people know much about Political Parties in the country. This prompted the Registry to begin a serious of awareness campaign starting in 2017 straight after the national election. The Registry conducted numerous awareness activities that involved road shows, visitation to educational institutions in provinces, district awareness and cultural show participation. In launching the PAMPS app, the Registrar, Dr Alphonse Gelu explained that PAMPS did not cost the registry any money. “It is the initiative of the staff who developed PAMPS as an option to getting people to know more of the political parties.” He further encouraged the general public to be members of political parties. “This would allow parties to have a solid foundation in which they will stand on in pursuing their aspiration to form Government.” This app compliments the ongoing awareness activities that is currently underway. It is targeted at mobile device users. These are mostly school aged pupils, professionals and general public as a whole. It is an informative app that aims to provide information about; All registered (46) Political parties and their contacts, Total number of MPs under each Political Party, MPs and the parties they are affiliated to, Party executives & their contact, General Party information, policies and visions. The app is free to download and is available on the Registry’s website:

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Registry staff granted an Australia Award Scholarship

By Dr Alphonse Gelu
The Registrar is pleased to announce that one of his staff has been accepted under the prestigious Australia Awards Scholarship for intake 2020. Miss Madeline Saga will undertake a Master’s in Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory. This is the first for the Registry and the Registrar is overwhelmed with satisfaction that this has come about as a result of his emphasis in training for staff at the Registry.
Miss Madeline Saga is the Senior Policy and Research Officer under the Policy Division. Madeline was charged by the Registrar to oversee the performance of female candidates during the 2017 national elections and the local level Government elections of 2019 including the Motu Koita LLG elections of 2018. Madeline had also committed her time and efforts towards women in leadership programs by working in partnership with stakeholders such as the UNDP, Department of Pacific Affairs, and Pacific Women, Australia Labor International and women candidates and politicians both foreign and national.
Through this exposure of creating avenues for women to get elected into parliament Madeline became passionate about the need to support this cause that would enable and encourage the younger generation to support female leaders. This study award is a timely opportunity that will allow her to create an effective approach for Papua New Guineans to elect candidates based on their leadership qualities and their integrity amongst their contribution to their local constituents regardless of male or female. She values her time spent working and sharing ideas with the Dr Nicole Hailey and Dame Carol Kidu under the PNG Women in Leadership Support Program, Dr Lesley Clark and Mr. Elias Hallaj from the Australia Labor Party and Ms. Julie Bukikun of the UNDP.
Finally I would like to thank Dr Lesley Clark for your expert contribution to the Registry and your mentoring to the staff and your words of encouragement and support to Madeline.This award is a great leap forward for both Madeline and the office of the Registry in that it will encourage her colleagues to work diligently into pursuing further qualifications in order to create an effective and accountable public service. The Registry is thankful to the Australian Government’s commitment to its continued support to developing Papua New Guinean leaders through this partnership. To Miss Saga, we wish you well in your studies as an ambassador for our office and country.

Planning Day outlines activities for 2020

By William Garena
The staffs of the Registry led by the Registrar Dr Alphonse Gelu took time out to conduct their planning day on 4th December 2019 at the Bengo Conference Centre. The planning day has been a practice for the Registry since 2013, and its purpose is to identify and prepare key activities and programs for the 2020 financial year.
In the 2020 financial year, the Registry will undertake seven key activities that are closely related to promoting and strengthening political parties as identified in the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Corporate Plan 2018-2022. All individual staff work plans will align with these activities. These activities include: Revised OLIPPAC; Presentation of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Annual Reports; District Awareness; Cultural Festivals; Mentoring of Party Executives; Mentoring of Selected Intending Female Candidates for the 2022 National Elections; Political Party Forums; and Publication of Reports
The revised OLIPPAC Bill is a top priority activity for the Registry and is anticipated that the Bill will be introduced on the floor of Parliament at the earliest Parliament Sitting in the new financial year. The District Awareness and Cultural Festivals are key activities that will support the Registry’s efforts in raising awareness on political parties in order for people to know more about political parties.
Mentoring of party executives is part of the Registry’s Mentoring Initiative which will run for the next three years. Like the Awareness program, it is a flagship program aimed at dealing with party executives on a one-on-one basis, and getting to know and understand issues affecting the operations of political parties. Mentoring of selected women is a new activity and is an extension of the Mentoring program. It is aimed at supporting women candidates who will be contesting the 2022 National Elections. The Registry will be working closely with key stakeholders and partners in rolling out this activity.
Another key activity for the Registry in 2020 will be to host two political parties forum respectively in May and October. This forums will enable the Registry to inform political parties on important updates and at the same time, continue the dialogue process with political parties in terms of the governance of the OLIPPAC.
The printing of reports is an important activity of the Registry and includes Annual Reports, 2016 Survey Report, 2019 LLG Observation Report, 2018 Motu-Koitabu Observation Report, and the 2018 Awareness Report on Bogia and Sumkar Districts of Madang province. Apart from the Annual Reports, the four remaining reports are evidence-based reports which will greatly guide the Registry in providing robust policy options to the Government at the sector level. Once published it will also be of great use to stakeholders and the public as a resource material about political parties in the country.

Peoples Party updates party constitutions and policies

By Claudio Labeli
The Registry of Political Party conference venue was used by the Peoples Party to review the party policies, constitution and structure for three days starting on the 20th – 22nd November 2019. The workshop saw a think tank of party followers from different professional backgrounds come together for this event. Included in the workshop were some Registry staff
Peoples party is a registered party under the Registry of Political Party. It was registered in 2006 and has participated in three national elections beginning with 2007, 2012 and recently in 2017. It is currently in the collation government holding the second highest position in the country through the Member for Esa’ala Hon Steven Davis as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Attorney General. The other six parliamentary members are the Party Leader and Governor for Jiwaka, Hon Dr William Tongamp, Hon Sir Peter Ipatas, Governor for Enga, Hon Wake Goi, Member for Jimi and Community Development Minister, Hon John Kaupa, Member for Moresby North East, Hon Dr Lino Tom, Member for Wabag and Hon James Donald, Member for North Fly.
The three day event concluded with a final draft produced and presented to the Party Leader. Dr Tomamap extended the invitation to the Registry and Party followers for the upcoming national convention in 2020 where it would present it to the party convention. The closing of the workshop was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister Hon Steven Davis, Community Development and the Registrar, Dr Alphonse Gelu.

Policy Officer Latest Recipient of U.S. Department of State Program

By Claudio Labeli
Mr William Garena, a young policy researcher in the Policy Division of the Registry of Political Parties was honoured to travel to the United States, after being awarded the United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) through the U.S. Embassy. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with other participants and their American counterparts. Each year nearly 5,000 International Visitors come to the U.S. under this program. The program was based on the theme: “The Will of the People – Elections in Democracies”.
The visit was from 21st October – 9th November 2019 visiting five respective U.S States. Mr Garena’s visit started in Washington DC the capital than to New Hampshire, Florida, Mississippi and ended in California. He was the only recipient in the South Pacific region and the country to have been picked. A total of 24 other international recipients in his group who came from various countries attended the IVLP.
The aim of the program is to support stabilization and peace in fragile regions with emerging democracies through elections and democratic processes. The IVLP also allowed participants to experience the development and practice of democracy in the Western tradition that included political party development and cohesion, roles of the media and civil society, and political campaigns in the age of social media.
Mr Garena gained much needed exposure in terms of exploring strategies to enhance political engagement in challenging environments such as: post conflict transition; quasi-authoritarian states; conflict zones; and underdeveloped societies. During his visit, Mr Garena met with State and Local Election Commissions, state election officials and tours of their facilities, meetings with campaign organisers, political candidates, party officials, academics, think thank experts, media professionals and representatives state governments.
Mr Garena hopes to share his experiences and what he has learnt with his colleagues and most importantly, how best he can incorporate his experiences professionally in contributing towards the Registry’s goal of strengthening and promoting political parties and democracy in the country.

PM opens forum for Political Parties & Women Leadership

By Solomon Puana
The opening address and official opening of the forum was done by the Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape. He thanked and acknowledged the distinguished guests, participants and the organizers of the forum for inviting him. In his opening address, he said that despite PNG been mentioned as one of the countries that have no women representation in Parliament, PNG women’s participation in political leadership is not bleak. He said that there is room for improvements to be made and his government is committed to clean the electoral process to ensure that there is free, fair and safer elections to provide a conducive and an equal playing field for both women and men to participate in the elections on merits. Prime Minister, Hon. Marape further stated that women must not be appointed into Parliament by using any forms of Temporary Special Measures (TSM) but must contest the elections like men. He added by saying that, despite, having no women in this term of Parliament women have always been contesting the elections, became MP’s and have performed well as MP’s since 1972.
The Prime Minister also commented that his Cabinet will look into the Revised Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) and bring to parliament for possible approval and passage. Hon. Marape also said that his government will support the Registry of Political Parties in its work and urged the Registrar, Dr. Alphonse Gelu and his team to continue the work on promoting and strengthening political parties and their policy platforms leading up to 2022 national elections. He also made mentioned that, there will be incentive based programs for political parties to ensure that more women are engaged.

PNG Political Parties & Women in Political Leadership Forum

By Solomon Puana
The Forum on PNG Political Parties and Women in Political Leadership was held in Port Moresby, National Capital District on the 14th and 15th of November 2019 at the Kumul Conference Centre, Holiday Inn Hotel. The two day forum was provided by the Registry of Political Parties – Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission (IPPCC), with the support of New Zealand Aid Program and United Nation Development Program (UNDP). The Forum was held to support the Registry’s commitment to Promote Women’s Political Participation through Political Parties. The aim of the two day forum was firstly, to expose political party’s executives in Papua New Guinea to the experiences of their colleagues in other countries within the Pacific Region. And secondly, to maintain dialogue and linkages between women leaders who intended to contest in the national elections. The hosting of the forum would identify common issues experienced by women candidates in the past elections in order to address them with the stakeholders concerned before 2022 national elections.
The ultimate goal of the forum was for political parties’ executives and women in political leadership who contested the 2017 national elections to observe the following objectives:
• To make known their intentions to contest in the national elections 2022
• To share their election experiences with likeminded women at the political front
• To share their views about political parties in PNG
• To create sustainable ties with stakeholders and political parties through the Registry
• To make reference to issues raised and ensure that they are addressed with relevant stakeholders before the next election
The forum was privileged to have Prime Minister – Hon. James Marape; the New Zealand High Commissioner – His Excellency Mr. Philip Taula; Resident Representative United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Mr. Dirk Wagener; and the Registrar Dr Alphonse Gelu making opening remarks to officially open the Forum.
The other resource persons that made presentations during the Forum included the Assistant Resident Representative UNDP – Ms.Julie Bukikun; Professor of Political Science and International Studies, De la Salle University, Manila – Dr. Julio Cabral Teehankee; Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), Fiji – Mr. Pita Wise; General Secretary for National Federation Party, Fiji – Ms. Seini Nabou; Fiji Elections Office Representative – Mr. Mesake Vocevoce Dawai; Chairwomen of the Standing Committee on Women’s Rights, Congress of New Caledonia – Ms. Nadine Jalabert; Former Governor of Eastern Highlands Province – Mrs. Julie Soso; Former Minister for Community Development and Religion and Member for Sohe Open – Mrs. Delilah Gore; and former Chairperson of the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission (IPPCC) – Dr. Orovu Sepoe. Ms Joyce Grant from the National Alliance Party and Ms Jennifer Rudd, former President for the Kiriwina Local Level Government also shared their experiences.Mr. Morris Tovebae General Secretary for Pangu Party gave an overview on the membership drive for the party and Ms Rufina Peter gave an excellent observation on her experiences as a candidate in the 2017 national election. She gave useful recommendations at the end in preparation for 2022.
Of the 45 registered Political Parties, only 25 political parties were invited to attend the forum, however only 14 were able to attend the forum. Also in attendance were women who contested the 2017 national elections endorsed by political parties and former women MPs participated in the forum. Participants included the Registry staff, political party executives, UNDP, New Zealand Aid, and a senior officer from PNG National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
NBC is seen as one of the key stakeholders where they disseminate and publish the outcome of the forums and create an opportunity for political party executives to promote their party policies. Also present were other media personnel namely EMTV, the National and TVWAN. During the first day of the forum, there was a short media press conference in which the Prime Minister answered three questions from the Media. Presenters during the two day forum included the Registrar Dr. Alphonse Gelu, Mrs. Julie Soso, Mrs. Delilah Gore, Dr. Orovu Sepoe, Dr Julio Teehankee, Mr. Pita Wise, Ms. Seini Nabou, Mr Mesake Dawai, Ms. Joyce Grant, Ms. Jennifer Rudd, Ms. Nadine Jalabert, Ms. Rufina Peter, Mr. Morris Tovebae and Ms. Julie Bukikun who provided well informative presentations and also experiences shared by our neighboring countries within the region that we could learn from.