File Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
File Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

A key law on party funding to put political parties in the spotlight

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published May 15, 2021

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Cape Town - The signing into law of the Political Party Funding Act has also allowed for another key law that would force parties and independent candidates to disclose their funders ahead of the local government elections in October this year.

My Vote Counts said when the Political Party Funding Act came into effect on April 1 the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) also came into effect.

My Vote Counts had gone to court to argue that the PAIA legislation was not constitutional.

The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of My Vote Counts and called for amendments to the PAIA legislation.

“The Act stipulates that political parties, as well as independent candidates, need to record the identity and amount of all private donations received over the threshold of R100,000. These records then need to be made available publicly on a quarterly basis and need to be kept for at least five years after the records were created,” said My Vote Counts in a statement.

“The Act relies on definitions and provisions contained in the PPFA including what types of donations are allowed and prohibited and limits on donations in a financial year. The PAIA Amendment Act, however, focuses solely on the element of access to information,” it said.

It said the Political Party Funding Act calls on political parties to disclose their funders.

“A key difference between the two laws is that under the PAIA Amendment Act, the onus rests with political parties and independent candidates to make this information publicly available physically at their offices and on their websites. The Act falls under the remit of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development,” said My Vote Counts.

“Another important distinction between the two laws is that the PAIA Amendment Act requires both political parties and independent candidates to make these disclosures, whereas the PPFA only covers political parties.

“Crucially this means that we should expect the first set of disclosures of private funding to be made under the PAIA Amendment Act and the PPFA before the upcoming local government elections scheduled for 27 October 2021,” said My Vote Counts.

“Together, the two new laws will serve to radically reshape our ability to understand how our politics is financed and to better understand the links between private interests, political parties and politicians,” it added.

The introduction of the Political Party Funding Act has also led to the ANC to complain that its funding coffers are running dry.

This was after the ruling party failed to pay its staff members in the past few months.

Last month the party said its salaries for staff members at Luthuli House would be paid late because of funding problems.

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