Parliament - The ANC confirmed on Monday that it is seeking an overhaul of the model on which support funding is given to political parties in Parliament, saying the ruling party found itself facing severe constraints.
ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani said opposition parties turned to private donors to make up any shortfall they had in their budgets for researchers and other support staff, putting the ANC at a disadvantage.
“We don't only manage our members... we are also managing the institution itself. And because of that other parties find it easy to punch holes in what we do because our money is not spent on creating the concrete capacity.
“The majority of parties will always go and get research capacity from the private sector, from universities.
“They will get the information and they will use it against us and against the executive. We have to sometimes even run after those processes. When we have our own capacity we will be able to deal with those matters effectively ourselves.”
Asked whether the additional funding should come from the state, Sizani replied: “Where else must it come from?”
ANC officials said it was against the party's policy to secure funding from outside because it believed private donors were not disinterested, and this posed a problem.
They said the party had only four researchers and four media liaison officers to cover 39 study groups, and therefore found itself outflanked by the opposition.
The call to change the parliamentary political party funding model comes out of the ANC's annual caucus lekgotla held at the weekend.
Sizani said the ruling party, by virtue of its majority in Parliament, had to assume a host of responsibilities that the opposition did not, such as managing the legislative timetable and committee meeting schedule.
“We do not have researchers, we do not have these facilities that other people have. The money goes to constituency work, it goes to salaries of staff and so on. There is no money specifically to make me more effective and efficient in my duties.”
But he made it clear that he was not just asking for more funds for the ANC, saying the proposed change should benefit all parties.
Speaker Baleka Mbete said in her budget vote debate this month that support funding for political parties increased by 5.3 percent this year to R348.5 million.
“The R348.5 million for political parties' funding is divided into political support for R83.2 million, constituency support for R247.8 million and party leadership support for R7.5 million.”
She explained that the constituency allowance is payable to all parties represented in Parliament and is paid to the party and not to individual members.
The total amount payable per party is determined by multiplying the number of seats per party by the amount determined per member.
But an ANC source said the figure translated into only R12 000 per month for every ANC MP to run a constituency office, and that was far too little to engage staff and perform the task properly.
The ANC was therefore not satisfied with the increase but wanted the actual model to be overhauled because it was outdated, he said.