Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi has stopped short of removing a section in a Bill in Parliament related to the funding of parties, but was prevented by the recommendations of the Zondo Commission’s report that insisted that section be inserted in the bill.
Motsoaledi said section 10 of the Political Party Funding Act was criminalising people who were receiving donations outside of their parties.
He said donors have different motives when they make contributions to parties, but it was difficult to police a section dealing with donations made to individuals.
Motsoaledi, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), the Department of Communication and Parliament’s legal advisers, made submissions on the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill before the joint committees of parliament.
This bill has to be passed by parliament before the elections.
It was sent to parliament following the judgment of the Constitutional Court last year that determined the threshold of parties and independent candidates who are contesting for seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.
Motsoaledi said they did not agree with section 10 because it sought to criminalise members of parties who may not be aware of the intentions of donors when they make a contribution.
“The Parliamentary legal services say they agree with the issue on section 10. This is section 10 of the Political Party Funding Act as it was passed in 2018. The original section says no member of a political party should receive funding from any source other than for party political activities.
“Firstly, when you look at it you don’t know what purpose it will serve. It is frankly criminalising people without their knowledge because we argue very strongly that it just says any member of a political party.
“All of you here are members of political parties, if tomorrow you have got a funeral and I feel like contributing, we do so in our culture. I don’t know with other cultures or if I attend a party I feel like contributing something, then it means I am criminalised as far as that section 10 of Political Party Funding Act is concerned.
“How do you police that I went to my village to appease the ancestors and somebody donated a goat to me and yet the Act says it has to be for political purposes. We removed that section 10 altogether,” said Motsoaledi.
He said the section was not aligned with the fact that members of political parties would not be aware of the motive of a donor if they make a donation.
However, the department was in a dilemma after they removed the section.
The state capture commission, chaired by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had made serious findings and recommendations on these matters to prevent corruption in the tender system.
The commission had said there must be a section in the law that deals directly with the issue of donors seeking favour from parties and their members in return for tenders.
Motsoaledi said had it not been for the report of the Zondo Commission that flagged this issue and insisted that it must be in the law, they would have removed section 10 of the Political Party Funding Act.
“But after removing it we were faced with the issue of the Zondo Commission where we were instructed by Zondo that we must insert in the Political Party Funding Act a clause that will criminalise any individual or any party who makes a donation with the expectation of some reward later, who will say I want a tender,” said Motsoaledi.
The meeting of the joint committees will continue next week on amendments by the department of home affairs.
The Electoral Matters Amendment Bill will have to be finalised before the elections.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has not yet announced the date of the elections.
However, his spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the announcement will be made within the next 15 days.