DA leader Mmusi Maimane File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Cape Town - The disclosure of opposition party donors may well pose a major threat to multiparty democracy, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.

In a statement on the outcomes of the DA's two-day federal executive (FedEx) meeting in Cape Town, he said the meeting had considered the recent developments around a renewed call for a fully transparent approach to political party funding.

Last month, the DA supported the establishment of an ad hoc committee in parliament to consider the funding of political parties.

"In practice, the disclosure of opposition donors may well pose a major threat to multiparty democracy," Maimane said.

"This is often not understood by well-meaning groups and individuals who are unaware of the chilling effect full disclosure might have to democracy. This is because a strong opposition is vital to any flourishing democracy. However, complete transparency of all political party funding means that companies and individuals that do not fund the governing party, and choose to fund opposition parties, are at risk of being bullied and victimised by government.

"Examples abound where such punitive actions have been taken by the ANC and the fear this creates in potential donors is real. This is further evidenced how opposition parties in the SADC [Southern African Development Community] region have been punished by similar such legislation implemented by governing parties," he said.

In addition to this, the DA objected to the ANCs submission for an increased allocation of government funding to political parties. The only motive behind this proposal was to save the ANC from bankruptcy, because its performance in government and its protection of corruption and patronage networks has led to financial support for the party drying up. It should also be noted that through its investment arm, Chancellor House, the ANC abused state tenders to enrich itself.

At the heart of the issue was whether there was any possible corrupt activities as a result of party funding, and at present the legislation governing such corrupt activities provided for strong action to be taken. The fact that little or no action had been taken was more a reflection of the failings of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) than the legislation itself.

"We will continue to ensure that vibrant multi-party democracy is defended and that the fig leaf covering the ANC’s real intention – to hobble opposition parties - is exposed," Maimane said.
African News Agency