By donating 300 thousand denars, 44-year-old lawyer Arber Isaku decided, with his own financial resources, to contribute to the victory of the Democratic Union for Integration in the snap elections held in April 2014. He stands as one of the 13 contributors to the report of the State Audit Office. In those elections, DUI won 19 MPs and continued to be a partner in the VMRO-DPMNE government.
Two years later, Isaku was elected as member of the Council of Public Prosecutors, an institution that legally should not have a single point of contact with political parties.
Was his 2014 donation crucial to get a seat in the Council of Public Prosecutors? What do those who have donated a larger amount than Isaku get?
“If you get a position, a member of the Judicial Council, if you get the position of prosecutor, if you get the position of a director of a public company on the basis of generating everything that we talked about, how do you expect tomorrow, the one who paid the function to apply standards that will deliver accountability, effectiveness, efficiency and transparency”, says academic Abdulmenaf Bedzeti, former leader of the PDP
“Politics is obviously becoming a lucrative business for individuals who are prone to corruption”, says Petar Goshev, former leader of the LDP
SERIOUS SOURCE OF CORRUPTION
Political party funding remains the most serious source of corruption. Experts believe that the lack of serious control over the work of political parties turns them into joint stock companies, where the one who donates gets the most.
“To give them tenders, to pay them more than the usual price, to receive lower quality of service performed than the one required. So in different ways to extract money from taxpayers or the budget of the Republic of Macedonia or the total public sector”, adds Goshev.
Political party funding keeps open the dilemma whether the parties have turned into profitable companies that manage the state as if it were their private property.
“The question whether the country can be privatized by the parties is delayed. Our country has already been privatized by the government party and its coalition partner in its domain”, thinks Sasho Ordanovski, fighter against corruption.
“Political parties have no need to buy Republic of Macedonia as a big part of the officials feel that they possess it this or that sort of way”, Imer Selmani, former leader of the NDP
In these circumstances, when the political crisis broke out as a result of partying state institutions and numerous abuses, the party is the most important, and the state is only used as a payment institution from which money is to be drawn for parties.
“Parties act as owners with material interests by assessing the profitability etc. Ours, practically, if they were joint stock companies, would still have some control and public. You say that they are acting as joint stock companies, but unattended, without control. It is much more hideous than it is in the common economic market world where there is fraud, too, but there are also authorities to clear up. So I think that joining the party and the state is evident within the property, it is evident in every aspect, says Stojan Andov, founder and former leader of the LP
“I think corruption has entered all aspects of government and there is no end here. This situation cannot go further”.
Estates worth millions, income, donations, money from the budget on various grounds end up in party funds. So experts urge to curb the parties’ appetites and put order in their funding.
“I am sure that nothing will cost the budget if it funds the political parties with 20-30 million Euros per year, parliamentary dominant, but also non-parliamentary, even though much less than in the name of that to let them steal your 10% the budget, and that is 300 million”, says Bedzeti.
PUBLIC ENTERPRIZES – PARTY DONORS
There are opportunities for corruption in political parties’ donations. In political parties members and officials appear as donors, as well as public companies, which is illegal.
In 2015, 3,675 donors, mostly officials and members of VMRO-DPMNE gave 1.4 million Euros.
The biggest donor in Gruevski’s party is Ilija Srbinovski with 100,000 denars. This coincides with the name of a former MP of the party from Bitola. Interesting names as donors are also the names of Oliver Derkovski, who on July 14 donated 50.000 denars, followed by Jordan Vitanov, who on the same date donated 50.000 denars. On the same date, 14 July 2015, almost all directors of public enterprises and public institutions in Stip paid 50,000 denars as a donation to the party.
MPs Ivan Ivanov and Vesna Pemova paid 20,000 denars on 15 and 16 July last year, while their colleague Ane Lashkoska on the same day paid 50.000 denars into the party’s account.
MP Andon Chibishev paid 60.000 denars on 27 October, and his colleague Viktor Kamilovski two days later donated 20,000 denars to his party.
In VMRO DPMNE donations there is no violation of the Law on Financing Political Parties, although some former leaders doubt the veracity that VMRO-DPMNE has over 3,500 donors.
“We have people who have not donated anything, but are registered to have donated 1,000 or 5,000 Euros etc. That is the way afterwards to justify the amounts derived from the account of financing the party”, thinks Goshev.
“There is no average member, average citizen in the Republic of Macedonia that has the capacity to give 1,000 Euros or 5,000 Euros donation to the party. Firstly, their officials who have a salary and benefits, do not give the money, let alone other ordinary members. And for those millions spent on functioning of the party for such rabid campaigns, such lavish campaigns, it is about huge money. There is no such membership that can finance it.
TELECOM DONATED FOR SDSM
In SDSM, the biggest donor is the party secretary Oliver Spasovski, who gave 70,000 denars for the party in 2015. The party leader Zoran Zaev donated 60,000 denars to the SDSM account, while Stojko Paunovksi has given 49.000 denars 3 times.
It is symptomatic that Macedonian Telecom occurs as a donor in SDSM with about 20,000 denars. This donation is contrary to Article 20 of the Law on Financing Political Parties which states that:
Political parties cannot be financed by companies that have at least 20% participation of state capital.
“Political parties should be the ones to be provided, whether in government or opposition, legal functioning of the system. If you are in power, even more, if you are in opposition, when you come to power and it is clear that if you, as a subject, deal with illegal activities on your own funding of your other, let’s say organizations, extensions, etc., you cannot be a guarantor of legal operations of the whole country. So you do not need brains to conclude that criminal structures that operate in one way when they are a party cannot function very differently in a situation when they are opposition or power”, says Sasho Ordanoski, fighter against corruption.
There is a violation of the Law on Financing Political Parties within DUI.
The ruling party has Macedonian Post Office, State Dorm, Protection and Rescue Directorate, Macedonian Railways-Infrastructure and Airports of Macedonia as donors.
This, too, is contrary to Article 20 of the Law on Financing Political Parties.
But in spite of everything, there is no liability for illegal financing.
“The only politician who has suffered for irregular campaign financing is Mr. Boskoski. I do not say that he was right, but I will simply say that since 1990 there has been no serious politician who has not taken cash in their hands for the purpose of financing their own political party. Looking at the political faces in Macedonia, at some stage they have made a crime in this country, more or less. If a politician insists on not taking any, then he must be an insignificant politician, someone from the 4th league of politicians, so no one has given him money”, thinks Ljubco Georgievski, leader of the VMRO-People’s Party
“In the last 2.5 decades we have not seen an example of the power to check the work of the opposition or the ruling parties in terms of these legal provisions that determine their operation. So there is an agreement not to tamper with it, it suits all parties and basically they are internally undemocratically mounted”, adds Ordanovski.
(The story has been supported by the National Endowment for democracy project “Raising Awareness About Corruption through Investigative Reporting”)