Cape Town – The civil society organisation My Vote Counts (MVC) welcomes the ANC’s steps toward addressing the regulation of private political party funding.
“The proposal to set up an ad hoc committee in Parliament to deal with this issue comes at a time when our democracy faces a crisis of corruption, state capture, and ‘money politics’,” said Janine Ogle, co-ordinator of MVC, a civil society organisation aimed at improving the accountability, transparency and inclusiveness of elections and politics in SA.
On Thursday, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu announced the African National Congress wants to increase public funding for political parties and also create greater transparency on the funding parties receive from private donors.
An ad hoc committee will be instituted to deal with this matter and propose legislation if required. Mthembu hopes the committee will finish its work by December.
MVC will work with any parliamentary process that aims to bring meaningful reform that promotes transparency and a more diverse and robust democratic climate, said Ogle.
“We believe this proposal is a vital, long-overdue step to addressing the corruptive influence of money in our politics. Parliament first committed to address this issue in 1997, and has missed many opportunities to enact reforms since then.
“We therefore welcome Mr Mthembu’s statement that the ad hoc committee should complete its inquiry by December 2017. We cannot accept a process that drags on and delays the inevitable any further.”
She said it is vital that full regulations are in place well before the 2019 elections so that these elections take place in an environment that has transparent and regulated private political party funding.
“MVC has long called on the South African Parliament and the department of justice and correctional affairs to enact legislation to regulate political party funding in South Africa.”
Currently, all major political parties refuse to disclose the source of their private funding.
After many attempts to get political parties to disclose their funders to the public, MVC has been forced to go to court to challenge the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for failing to provide access to information on the funding of political parties.
This case is set down to be heard on August 15 and 16, 2017.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Front Plus leader Dr Pieter Groenewald has complained that the formula currently used to determine each party represented in Parliament’s share of up to R150m of public funds for political parties is skewed to favour the ANC.
Mthembu described the R150m as a “pittance”.
Groenewald said the law currently allows that 90% of the funds are allocated proportionally, while the remaining 10% are shared equally.
According to Groenewald’s figures, the ANC received R83.58m of the R150m in the 2017/2018 financial year.
The Democratic Alliance got R30.47m and the remaining R26.67m were shared among the 11 other parties.
Groenewald argued this meant in effect that the taxpayers’ money has been used to fund a corrupt government’s election campaign.