Picture: Kevin Sutherland/EPA
Picture: Kevin Sutherland/EPA

Parties push for signing of funding bill

By Mary Jane Mphahlele Time of article published Jan 12, 2019

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Parties continued to mount pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday to sign into law the Political Party Funding Bill to allow for the equal distribution of funds and disclose who funds parties.

This comes after Parliament passed the Electoral Laws Bill this week to prevent the use of public funds in political campaigns.

The ANC has been accused by opposition parties of using public funds in campaigns.

The bill was passed by Parliament last year and the president has not yet assented to it.

Spokesperson for Ramaphosa, Khusela Diko, said they had indicated that the president was consulting with various stakeholders before signing the bill into law.

Among the parties Ramaphosa was consulting was the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on their state of readiness.

The IEC did not respond to questions sent to it.

Cope and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said it was time Ramaphosa signed the bill into law as the elections were around the corner.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said they wanted the president to sign the bill urgently.

“We want this bill to be signed as in yesterday. We want to know who is funding the campaigns of each and every party. By not signing the bill, it hampers smaller parties in their campaign. We are depending on more funds (from the Multiparty Democracy Fund run by the IEC),” said Bloem.

Steve Swart of the ACDP reiterated calls for Ramaphosa to sign the bill.

“We regret that it’s not been signed because it will result in a more equitable funding of parties,” said Swart.

Meanwhile, other political parties have applauded Parliament on the initiative to see to it that the bill exists.

IFP MP Mntomuhle Khawula said they were happy with the bill, but that there was still room for improvement.

“We agree with the bill in its entirety, but we felt that we still have to improve some aspects of it. We cannot achieve everything all at once.

“We have been appealing to the IEC that as long as it does not monitor the use of government funds for electioneering, then the elections remain unfair and not free. It gives unfair advantage to those who are in power,” said Khawula.

Though the DA said it was satisfied with the bill, the party proposed an amendment to provide increased powers for the IEC to increase the number of suitable voting venues abroad.

National Council of Provinces (NCoP) chairperson Thandi Modise ruled that the proposed amendments fell outside the scope of the bill and were therefore constitutionally and procedurally out of order.

DA MP Cathleen Labuschagne said: “The bill, as was passed by the NCoP, requires South Africans to vote at an embassy, high commission or consulate. This places an undue burden on South Africans living away from capital and political cities, who will now need to travel to such in order to vote.

“The NCoP has now irregularly passed this bill, placing an undue burden on hundreds of thousands of South Africans living abroad who wish to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Labuschagne.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the bill was aimed at maintaining political stability by protecting the legitimacy of elected legislative bodies from which national and provincial governments derived the authority to constitute themselves.

Political Bureau

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