Home South African Political Funding Act gets the nod from all parties

Political Funding Act gets the nod from all parties

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The act establishes funds to provide political parties represented in Parliament and legislatures with funding to undertake their work. It also requires that donations be disclosed by parties and donors to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa’s signing of the Political Party Funding Act into operation has been backed by parties with the act now expected to come into effect on April 1.

Ramaphosa signed a Proclamation on the Commencement of the Political Party Funding Act, 2018 (Act no. 6 of 2018), which regulates public and private funding of political parties.

The act establishes funds to provide political parties represented in Parliament and legislatures with funding to undertake their work. It also requires that donations be disclosed by parties and donors to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

“The act prohibits donations to parties by foreign governments or agencies, foreign persons or entities, organs of state or state-owned enterprises.

“Parties may however receive funding from foreign entities for training, skills development or policy development. No member of a political party may receive a donation other than for political party purposes,” said Tyrone Seale, acting spokesperson for the president.

The EFF’s national spokesperson, Vuyani Pambo, said that although they welcomed the signing of the act into operation, its signing was long overdue.

“We are not surprised that it took Mr Ramaphosa this long to sign what will evidently promote transparency about the flow of money, strengthen our democracy, and society’s confidence in its leaders.

“It is a constitutional right to have information, so that there is transparency and accountability in government. Thus, we call on Ramaphosa to unseal the CR17 documents in line and in the spirit with which he signed the Political Party Funding Act. As the President of this country, Ramaphosa must lead by example and disclose his funders immediately,” Pambo said.

Narend Singh, IFP chief whip in the National Assembly, said they welcomed the move by Ramaphosa because they had supported the act to encourage and promote transparency.

“It will have an impact on the way parties receive party political funding now because you might find that corporations and businesses are reluctant to disclose their names. It will slightly improve the position of us smaller parties because the ratio of top slicing will improve in our favour,” Singh said.

Wayne Thring, ACDP deputy president, said they had always supported disclosures because even when NGOs asked political parties to disclose the sources of their funding, they had been one of few parties to reveal their funders.

“We’ve also advocated for there to be a base where there’s an equalisation of taxpayers money going to all political parties because right now is that the majority parties get the bulk of funding of taxpayers money and the smaller parties really struggle,” Thring said.

Cosatu parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks said the signing of the act into operation will be a welcome boost in the fight against the “festival of corruption threatening the very fabric of our nation”.

“The federation had long called for this act to come into effect. Its commencement from 1 April is important as political parties’ fundraising before the 2021 local government elections can then be held to scrutiny.

“We hope that those recalcitrant politicians in not only the ANC but also some of the opposition parties, will abandon their shameless attempts to stop the act and have it sent back to Parliament to have its anti-corruption, transparency and accountability clauses gutted.

“If anything, Parliament should develop the moral courage to strengthen those clauses by requiring parties to account for all donations and placing tighter caps on corporate donations,” said Parks.

Non-profit organisation My Vote Counts labelled the signing of the act as a victory for transparency and accountability and a genuine historic advancement towards greater transparency and accountability in the country’s politics and democracy.

“This law will fundamentally improve and deepen our ability to exercise our political rights from an informed position. For the first time in our country’s history, political parties will need to disclose the sources and amounts of private funding they receive and this will be available to the public,” said My Vote Counts spokesperson Sheilan Clarke.