Bill prohibits donations from foreign agencies to parties
News / 22 September 2017, 5:00pm / Mayibongwe Maqhina
Cape Town - The funding of political parties by foreign agencies and state organs, including the National Lottery, is prohibited in provisions contained in the proposed legislation governing funding of political parties.
The draft Political Party Funding Bill is a sequel to a resolution taken by Parliament in June to establish an ad hoc committee to look into the model of public and private funding for political parties.
The ad hoc committee, chaired by ANC MP Vincent Smith, is expected to submit its final report to Parliament at the end of November.
During its hearings in August, the committee received oral presentations from 13 of the 17 people and organisations that made written submissions.
In his report to the House, Smith said the committee had agreed to repeal the existing legislation, the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act.
“The proposed legislation will regulate both the private and public funding of political parties,” he said.
The bill provides for the establishment of a Represented Political Party Fund (RPFP) and a Multi-Party Democracy Fund (MPDF), which will be managed by the Independent Electoral Commission.
Both funds, with the MPDF accepting private donations separate from the RPPF, funded from the public fiscus, will be allocated to parties that are represented in Parliament and legislatures.
The bill, which has been published in the Government Gazette, while now receive another round of written submissions until October 16, before further public hearings are conducted.
It prohibits direct donations to political parties from organs of state, foreign governments and persons, state entities and the National Lotteries Commission.
Parties must also disclose all donations which are above prescribed thresholds, which will be published annually by the IEC.
The bill also provides for the investment of the funds with the Public Investment Corporation.
Contraventions of the proposed legislation include sanctions ranging between R40 000 and R1 million.
The civil society organisation My Vote Counts has welcomed the draft bill to regulate political party funding.
“This process is incredibly important to strengthen our political system by increasing transparency in the identity of the benefactors of political parties, and improving trust and accountability in our politics.
“The Bill, once passed, will also ensure that political parties are not corrupted or unduly influenced in their policy positions or regarding the political decisions they make,” said My Vote Counts co-ordinator Janine Ogle.
However, she said her organisation was extremely concerned that the bill did not address the funding of political parties and independent candidates in municipalities.
“This means that political parties represented at the local government level and independent candidates do not have to disclose where they receive their private funds from,” Ogle said.