Cope labels signing of Electoral Matters Amendment Bill an assault on democracy

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Published May 8, 2024


The signing of the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa has been described as an assault on constitutional democracy and evidence of the inefficiency of the government under his administration.

Recently Ramaphosa signed the bill which makes a number of amendments to the Political Party Funding Act passed in 2021, such as removing the R15 million a year limit on funding political parties may receive from external sources.

In addition, it also removes the R100 000 threshold for political parties to declare these donations, and instead gives the president the power to set a new limit and a new threshold, upon the instruction from Parliament.

Provision has also been made for independent candidates elected to legislatures to receive funding from the Multi-Party Democracy Fund, funded by private donors, and administered by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC).

The president on Tuesday also approved the Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill, which provides an additional R200 million to represented political parties to campaign for the national and provincial elections.

While the IEC welcomed the signing of the bill, describing it as a much needed step to providing the necessary legal certainty required to prepare for the elections which will be held in the country this year, the Congress of the People (Cope) has announced it was disappointed by the “last minute” move by the president to sign the bill.

According to the party’s acting national spokesperson, Pakes Dikgetsi, Ramaphosa’s signing the bill so close to the May 29 elections demonstrated the general inefficiencies of Ramaphosa’s administration, which was characterised by tasks being completed either slowly or not at all.

Dikgetsi said: “This is an assault on the constitutional values that have been hard won, in that the need for transparency and the need for accountability is an important cornerstone of our constitutional democracy. For Ramaphosa to remove the provision that political parties should not declare and be transparent is an assault on democratic values. This is according to Chapter One of the Constitution that South Africa is founded on democratic values where the government is transparent and accountable.

“Ramaphosa is creating a breeding ground for more corruption and more abuse because we know who are going to be the beneficiaries of that lack of transparency. It is also not surprising coming from Ramaphosa because they have been hellbent since 2009 to undermine the value of our Constitution and that of the country.”

Dikgetsi said while certain sectors may applaud this decision, should Cope be elected into government, he stressed that it would campaign for Parliament to change the law, working towards strengthening it to ensure more accountability and more transparency.

Cope has not been the only political party to decry the signing of the bill. In April as many as 10 political parties including the ACDP, IFP, FF+, DA, ATM, GOOD, NFP, PAC and UDM petitioned the president not to sign the bill as it was unconstitutional.

Through a joint statement, the political parties vowed to join civil society groups in approaching the courts to oppose the legislation, should the president assent to the bill.

The Star

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