4 Things You Should Know

Political Parties Public Funding: ANC Chief whip Jackson Mthembu has called for a legislation to boost political parties’ state funding and to regulate private political donations.

In South Africa, the Representative Political Parties Fund, administered by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) sponsors political parties base on the number of their MPs and representatives in provincial legislatures.

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The parties, in return, issue financial statements. The statements are usually published in the fund’s annual report.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, the ruling party via its chief whip described this year’s R150m that would be proportionally shared among the parties represented in Parliament as a ‘pittance’.

Mthembu buttressed that democracy is effectively enhanced when activities and programs of political parties are well funded, adding that transparency in spending the fund is also paramount in building public confidence in the political system

“Democracy is quite an expensive project. Perceptions of undue influence and corruption are further fuelled by the absence of financial transparency amongst political parties. Currently, political parties are not required to disclose or report publicly on either the sources of their finances or the use to which funds are put,” the ANC chief whip said.

The Representatives Political Parties statutory fund was established in 1997 in line with Section 236 of the Constitution.

The section clearly stipulated: “To enhance multiparty democracy, national legislation must provide for the funding of political parties participating in national and provincial legislatures on an equitable and proportional basis.”

According to their numbers in Parliament and provinces, in this financial year, R150 will be shared among the 13 political parties in the country.

Like the ruling did in the 2016 financial year, it also will get the lion share of the fund this year. Last year, the fund’s annual report indicated that the ruling party received a whopping R75.6-million – having 62% electoral support, 249 MPs and 279 MPLs.

Sadly, over the years, the annual reports, severally showed that these monies are spent on pensions, travel, meetings, buildings, staff and rallies.

Despite losing three key metros in the last municipal elections, the ANC admitted spending a billion rand while the UDM spent less than R4-million, according to its leader Bantu Holomisa.

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Mthembuhe added that a parliamentary motion to establish an ad hoc committee to draft amendments to the 1997 Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act would be proposed soon.

Facts To Know About The Proposed Increment In Political Parties Funding

According to ANC Chief whip;

  • The primary aim of the proposal is to create a platform where there is the transparent funding of parties, and where everyone knows who private donors actually are.
  • An ad hoc committee would be appointed to consider the model of public funding for political parties, as well as the need for, and possible means of, regulating the private funding of political parties in all its forms.
  • The committee is also expected to investigate the funding of political parties, with a view to introducing amending legislation if necessary.
  • For years, the issue of private political funding has been on the agenda. Pressure groups have continued to kick against secret public funding, insisting that it gives room for fraud and corruption.