File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has approved election deposits for the 2019 National and Provincial elections of R200 000 for parties wishing to contest national elections and R45 000 per provincial elections contested. 

In a statement on Friday the IEC said the amounts are the same as those used in the 2014 national and provincial elections. 

"The retention of the same deposits since 2014 means a significant reduction in the amount in real terms. The final determination of the deposits by the commission followed the publication of the proposed amounts for public comment in October 2018. 

A total of 14 submissions were received from political parties and other stakeholders," the IEC said. 

The submissions ranged between calls for an increase in the deposit amounts, the retaining of the of proposed amounts and a decrease or scrapping of deposits. 

"In making a determination of the final deposit amounts the commission considered all the submissions along with local and international practice. The practice of prescribing election deposits has been part of our electoral democratic reality in South Africa since 1994," the IEC said. 

"In setting the amount, the commission sought to strike a judicious balance between an amount so high that it unfairly impairs the ability of potential electoral contestants and an amount so low that it fails to dissuade frivolous parties and results in a long, unwieldy and cluttered ballot paper."

The commission said that in 2004 the amounts set were R150 000 for national elections and R30 000 for provincial elections and this was increased to R180 000 and R34 000 in 2009 and raised again to R200 000 and R45 000 in 2014.

Despite increases in the amount for deposits, the number of parties contesting national and provincial elections has steadily risen over the past 20 years while the number of parties which have won seats in the National Assembly has remained relatively constant.

"Parties which fail to secure a seat in the National Assembly or provincial legislature forfeit their deposit to the National Revenue Fund. The number of votes required to secure a seat in both the national and provincial legislatures depends on the turnout of the elections," the commission said.

African News Agency (ANA)