File picture: Kevin Sutherland/EPA

Parliament - Parliament's ad hoc committee on political party funding received legal opinion on Tuesday that the recent court order to amend legislation to allow disclosure of private donations did not affect its work, as it was a parallel process.

Parliament's legal support services told MPs that "there is no requirement that committee must stop, the processes are complementary".

The legislature must amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to extend its ambit beyond public data to comply with a ruling by the Western Cape High Court in September on an application brought by the lobby group My Vote Counts.

The court held that PAIA was inconsistent with the Constitution in that it did not make provision for the recording and disclosure of information on private funding. It gave Parliament 18 months to correct this, during which the invalidity ruling will remain suspended.

My Vote Counts had argued that the information needed to be public in order to allow voters to make an informed choice.

September also saw the gazetting of the committee's draft Political Party Funding Bill. The committee is trying to meet a deadline to report to the National Assembly on November 30 after receiving submissions on the draft law and holding further deliberations.

Committee chairman Vincent Smith said he was intent on getting the report out before the end of the year and wanted the committee to focus on, among other points, the financial caps for disclosure. 

He said he thought there was no particular interests in forcing disclosure "of every one rand donation", largely for logistical reasons because of the volume of work it would create.

The committee received 21 submissions and has undertaken to allow oral representations by all parties who gave input before compiling its final report.

The bill seeks to regulate disclosure of funding to parties in the national and provincial legislatures, but not at municipal level.