Parliament - The political party funding bill has been welcomed by some, but interested groups have raised concerns about the bill’s powers in ensuring greater transparency on political party funding.
The bill was passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday and has been welcomed by the ANC as a great democratic achievement.
The bill is meant to ensure transparency in funding received by political parties. Pressure has been mounting for Parliament to come up with legislation to force parties to be more transparent with where they get the money to run their parties.
NGO My Vote Counts won a high court case last year, which ruled that it was unconstitutional for political parties not to reveal their funders as it hampered on voting rights of citizens.
The organisation said that although it was pleased with the passing of the bill, they did have some reservations on some aspects of the bill.
A section of the bill makes it mandatory for political parties in Parliament and Provincial Legislature to reveal their donors, but local government is excluded from this requirement, which MVC wants changed.
“There are some changes that we would like to be made, and I think if the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) allows for comment on the bill, we will make submissions. One of the issues that is very clear from the Western Cape High Court judgment last year, is that the local government sphere should be included and it’s not in the bill's current state,” said the organisation’s national coordinator Janine Ogle.
MCV is also concerned about the amount that parties are allowed to receive from donors in one financial year. The bill has capped the amount at R15 million a year.
“The issue is that we need transparency on political party funding, but we also need regulation that states were political parties can accept funding from and to what amount.”
“Another issue is that companies that do business with state are still allowed to fund political parties. Many organisations argued last year that businesses that do business with the state should not be allowed to make contribution to parties while they are still doing business with state. That has not been addressed in the bill either,” said Ogle.
The bill will now move to NCOP.
Opposition parties such as the EFF and the DA were not pleased with the bill. The DA’s James Selfe said his party agreed with the bill, but had limitations as it did not “deal with the Gupta matter”.
Selfe said government departments were often abused by the ANC around election season for electioneering. He said it was not right to paint every donor as “wanting favours”.