File photo: INLSA

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Parliament have hailed a Western Cape High Court ruling which ordered Parliament to change legislation to compel political parties to disclose who their private funders are.

My Vote Counts had brought the court challenge, with the respondents including the president, minister of Justice and Correctional Services, minister of Home Affairs, the SA Human Rights Commission and all the political parties represented in Parliament.

Parliament last night welcomed the ruling, saying that it would study the judgment to see how it would affect the Political Funding Bill which is before the ad hoc committee on Funding of Political Parties, which has been given until November 30 to submit a report to the National Assembly.

My Vote Counts national co-ordinator Janine Ogle said the issue of party political funding had been left unresolved because “Parliament hasn’t had the will to take action. It’s been up to civil society and we’ve had to litigate”.

My Vote Counts stated that a declaration of private party political funding was “reasonably required for the effective exercise of the right to vote” in terms of the South Africa’s Bill of Rights.

Judge Shenaz Meer’s order comes as Parliament last week opened another opportunity to the public and civil society to make written submissions on proposed legislation to regulate funding of political parties.

Last week the Political Party Funding Bill was published in the Government Gazette, with interested parties given until October 16 to make written submissions.

Ogle said My Vote Counts had made submissions on the new bill, and were studying the current draft.

Asked whether My Vote Counts was hopeful that a new law could be passed within 18 months, Ogle said Parliament had already started the process.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services along with the DA were ordered to pay the costs of the application.

“The UDM has long agitated for the review of party funding legislation to eliminate the trend of selling the country to the highest bidder,” said UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.

“#GuptaLeaks has shown palpable evidence that the South Africa’s political dispensation is vulnerable to manipulation by individuals, groups and companies for nefarious and very selfish goals.”

Judge Meer’s ruling, which still has to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court, means Parliament would have 18 months to amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia), which was found to be inconsistent with the constitution.

The DA said it would not appeal the successful court bid by My Vote Counts to have the secrecy around the private funding of party of political parties and the Promotion of Access to Information Act declared unconstitutional.